A photographer risked life and limb during this year's elk rut at Yellowstone National Park, when he strolled right up to a group of elk and began shooting pictures just inches from one's snout. Bizarrely, he clearly had a telephoto lens, and could have taken photos from much further away without disturbing the animals at all.
This was a particularly dangerous move, since elk can be particularly unpredictable and sometimes aggressive during the rut. The animal closest to his lens was a cow, and likely part of a harm belonging to a bull that can be seen sitting under a nearby tree. Bulls protect their harems fiercely during the rut, posturing, bugling, and charging at rivals, so the the photographer was extremely lucky not to wind up with an antler through his camera.
The incident (which you can watch below) was captured on video by Instagram user molly.starshine, and shared on the account TouronsOfYellowstone, which highlights bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty
A photo posted by on
Each year, the National Park Service reminds visitors to take particular care during the elk rut. At the start of the season, Yellowstone rangers shared a post on Facebook advising members of the public to take even more care than usual.
"While in the park, remember to keep 25 yards away from elk, as well as all other wildlife," they wrote. "Males are especially aggressive and protective of their territory right now, and they will not hesitate to charge you if they feel threatened.
"Elk can run up to 40 miles an hour so it's important to always be aware of your surroundings. If an elk charges, retreat!"
It's illegal to approach or distract wildlife at any US National Park, and visitors to Yellowstone are advised to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from elk at all times. Using a telephoto lens is a great way to appreciate animals from a safe distance – if you do it properly. You can also use binoculars or a monocular to get a better view (see our guide to the best binoculars for some affordable options that will work well).
For more advice on appreciating wildlife in National Parks, see our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.