Watch oblivious Yellowstone tourist snap photos of kids as huge bull elk approaches

Bull elk standing in field
(Image credit: Getty)

A man gave an excellent lesson in how not to behave around wildlife at Yellowstone National Park recently, when he encouraged his two young children to stand in the path of an approaching bull elk for a photo opportunity. In a video recorded by another park visitor near Lake Lodge – a popular destination for visitors who prefer not to camp.

In the video, which you can watch below, the man tells the two youngsters to hold a pose while the huge animal approaches them from behind, only letting them move when it's a couple of feet away. 

This time the family was lucky, but things could have gone very differently. Elk are currently in their breeding season, known as the rut, when males (bulls) gather a harem of females (cows) and defend them fiercely from rivals. Like all wild animals, elk can be unpredictable, and bulls can be particularly prone to aggression at this time of year.

The video was shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which brings attention to bad behavior at US National Parks and sites of natural beauty, often involving interactions with wildlife,

According to the National Park Service, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is home to around 30,000-40,000 elk. They play a huge role, providing food for predators like wolves and bears, competing with other herbivores such as bighorn sheep and bison, grazing on grasses and sedges, and depositing nutrients in their dung.

They are at their most spectacular at this time of year, as the males display dominance by displaying their antlers, bugling, and sparring with rivals. However, it's important to give them plenty of space to ensure both you and the animals stay safe. NPS guidelines advise staying at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from elk and bison at all times.

Instead of getting up close, it's better to appreciate the animals using a long camera lens or binoculars. For more advice, see our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.

Cat Ellis

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.