ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The young elk featured in a viral online video playfully head-butting a photographer has been killed after authorities at the Great Smokies National Park determined he was a safety threat.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Friday that the elk was euthanized in the wake of the Oct. 20 YouTube video, which has been viewed more than a million times and featured on national news shows. The video shows the elk head-butting James York, who was sitting along a trail taking photographs. York was not injured.
Smokies spokeswoman Dana Soehn says the difficult decision to put the elk to death was made after efforts to keep it away from people failed. She says visitors have been feeding some of the elks, causing the wild animals to lose their fear of humans.
On the YouTube page, photographer Vince M. Camiolo says he is "saddened by the fate of the elk," and said he was told the decision to euthanize the elk was "based on a pattern of aggressive behavior that began priot to the incident" documented on the video.