Woman tries to take selfie with elk at Yellowstone – it doesn't go well

Bull elk at Jasper National Park, Canada
(Image credit: Getty)

Getting too close to a wild animal is never a good idea, and turning your back on one is even worse, but sometimes common sense takes a backseat when a visitor spots an elk for the first time at Yellowstone National Park.

One video current circulating online shows a woman so keen to get a close-up with a bull that she takes a selfie while the animal is charging her, and barely makes it back to her car before being knocked down.

A video of the close call, recorded by the woman's traveling companion, was shared online this week via infamous Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which calls out bad behavior at the National Park.

Elk attacks are rare, but they do happen and sometimes result in serious injury. In 2020 a man was gored by an elk on a Colorado golf course, and in 2019 two people were injured in an elk attack in the town of Estes Park.

In 2018, two people were hospitalized after being attacked by a particularly protective cow elk at Yellowstone.

"The elk reportedly reared up and kicked [the victim] multiple times with its front legs, hitting her head, torso, and back," the National Park Service  said in a statement after one of the attacks.

Wildlife safety

Elk are at their most impressive during the rut in the fall, and it's spectacular to witness if you're careful and respect the animals' space. If you're planning to check it out next year, take a look at our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely.

The NPS advises staying at least 25 yards (23 meters) from elk at all times. If you're not sure what that looks like, hold out your arm, close one eye, and give the elk a thumbs-up. If you can't hide the whole animal behind your thumb, you need to back up. It's wisest to appreciate them from the safety of your car, or use a pair of binoculars or a long lens. 

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.