A group of diners at a restaurant in Yellowstone National Park had a shock when a bull elk charged at the terrace where several people were standing to photograph the animal. The video, shot during the elk rut in the fall, is part of a compilation shared this week by infamous Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone.
Several tourists had gathered close to the barrier surrounding the dining area, standing dangerously close to the animal. According to the Colorado Wildlife Council, elk can jump six vertical feet, and a low railing would pose little challenge if the animal made a real charge rather than a bluff.
The Instagram account usually calls out bad behavior at US National Parks, such as people chasing bears and petting bison, but some of the other incidents in this particular collection of clips would have been hard to avoid. The complete video, which you can watch below, shows several elk ramming cars, which is relatively common when hormones are running high, and Park Rangers' vehicles seem to be particularly common targets.
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The National Park Service (NPS) warns visitors that they are responsible for their own safety at the park, and that wild animals are unpredictable. Even if they seem calm at first, their temperament can change at the drop of a hat.
"Do not approach or feed any animal," the NPS says. "Bison and elk have injured people. Stay 100 yards (91m) from bears and wolves. Stay 25 yards (23m) from all other animals."
If you're planning to visit a US National Park in the fall, our guide how to enjoy elk rutting season safely will give you some useful advice to help you get the most out of the experience. You might also want to check out our list of tips from a professional wildlife photographer, which will help you capture great shots of wildlife without disturbing it, or putting yourself in danger.