Elk encounter caught on camera in the Smokies

Elk encounter caught on camera in the Smokies

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The video of James York's encounter with an elk on October 20 has now been put on YouTube. (source: YouTube) The video of James York's encounter with an elk on October 20 has now been put on YouTube. (source: YouTube)
"In that situation, we recommend to people is that they would slowly stand up, back away, and create that safe space and distance from themselves and the animal," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn. "In that situation, we recommend to people is that they would slowly stand up, back away, and create that safe space and distance from themselves and the animal," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - A North Carolina photographer is lucky he wasn't hurt after having a close encounter with an elk.

The incident happened in October in the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in October and was all caught on video.

The video of James York's encounter with an elk on October 20 has now been put on YouTube.

York says he was not really worried when the elk first approached him.

"He came up peacefully enough," said York. "He was grazing along side the road. I was hoping he would take a sniff and move away, and he didn't"    

For seven long minutes, York remained calm as the young elk continued to head butt him.

"He was having his horns down and coming at me," said York. "I was thinking don't show him fear."    

Park officials say September and October are mating season for the elk, which is also called the rut, and during that time their behavior is unpredictable.     

They say York did nothing wrong.

"He was sitting along side the road, which is permissible," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn. "The fields are closed during rut and the elk approached him."   

It is against the law to get within 50 yards of any wildlife in the park, and they recommend you always have a plan if you do encounter an animal, including elk.

"In that situation, we recommend to people is that they would slowly stand up, back away, and create that safe space and distance from themselves and the animal," said Soehn.

York is just grateful he was uninjured in this very close encounter.

Elk were reintroduced into the park in 2001. The herd is now up to 140.     

Park officials say since then, there have been no park visitors injured by an elk.

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