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Viral head-butting elk euthanized in N. Carolina

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Posted at 10:12 AM, Nov 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-18 12:12:42-05

(WTKR)— The elk seen in the viral video head-butting a North Carolina photographer has been euthanized.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the elk was put to death on Friday after the YouTube video showing the encounter went viral.

The video shows photographer James York, who was sitting along a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park taking pictures, being approached and head-butted by the elk. York was not injured.

The video was viewed more than one million times and featured on national news shows.

Smokies spokeswoman Dana Soehn said the decision to put the elk to death was a first for the park. Park officials said the elk was a problem before approaching the photographer.

Soehn said the elk had lost its fear of humans after being fed by visitors. She said the animal had demonstrated dangerous behavior that could result in human injury or death.

York says he is “truly saddened” that the elk was euthanized.

“I was really looking forward to watching him grow up,” he 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.”

Read more: The Asheville Citizen-Times