Many are outraged that the elk featured in photographs and a viral video was euthanized on Friday by federal park officials.
The video of the elk caught head butting a photographer in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the Chattahoochee Trail, N.C
. last month made its rounds on the internet last week.
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The photographer, identified as James York of Asheville, N.C. was sitting along the trail taking still photographs when the elk came towards him, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Park Spokeswoman Dana Soehn said that the elk had been moved before but returned to its old stomping grounds, at which point it lost its fear of humans.
"This fall, there have been several elk that have become food-conditioned," Soehn said. "We have reports of visitors who have been feeding them and the elk have been getting closer and closer. . . . that one potato chip does make a big difference."
Some people, though, felt strongly about the elk being euthanized and expressed their feelings on Twitter.
York told the Citizen-Times he was "truly saddened" by the park's decision to kill the elk.
"I was really looking forward to watching him grow up," York said. "I felt like I bonded with him. I am crushed that he's gone. I was looking forward to his rack getting bigger and maturing into a bull."
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