If you are a fan of either karmic retribution or schadenfreude (depends on your interpretation of the following story) then we have the story for you! A Colorado man has been hospitalized for what can generously be described as “poor decision-making skills,” and may even face charges for his stupidity. No, stupidity itself isn’t a crime as of yet, but how you wield it can be.
Perhaps we should elaborate. A herd of elk was hanging out on a lovely Sunday afternoon, doing elk things and whatnot, when a future Darwin Award candidate decided he was going to get pictures of them. While this is not necessarily a bad idea, doing so is normally done from a distance that both minimizes risk to the photographer as well as the animals being observed. The unidentified man chose to throw caution, as well as common sense, into the wind and got right in the middle of the animals.
“[The bull elk] kind of lunged forward toward the guy,” witness Brian Bowden said of the encounter. “The guy should have backed up to the street at that point, but the guy stood his ground and the bull turned right back around and put him to the ground and tossed him around a little bit.” Bowden’s wife, Marci, added that “the elk, he wasn’t doing anything wrong. The man was very blatantly in his space.” She was also able to get some photos of the incident.
The guy was only down for a few seconds, but it was enough that he apparently suffered a fairly severe wound that caused blood to almost instantly seep through his shirt. He flashed the Bowdens a thumbs up, apparently in response to them, as well as other nearby onlookers, warning him away prior to receiving his harshly learned lesson.
Elk mating season is in full swing right now which means the animals, males in particular, can be very aggressive when defending themselves. Even if it weren’t mating season, people should never approach wildlife so closely. Not only can it be harmful to your own health, but it can be distressing and harmful to the animals.
“That’s terrible,” said Jennifer Churchill of Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife. “I mean, this is the kind of thing we see every year. It’s not appropriate. It’s actually pretty stupid.” When asked whether the animal was at risk of being put down, Churchill said it wasn’t likely. After all, it wasn’t the elk’s fault that this guy got all up in his kitchen.
In fact, it may be the injured buffoon who will be facing the consequences of the incident. No, he won’t be put down, but he may be charged with harassing wildlife. Adding that to his injuries, he has learned a very valuable lesson, one that will hopefully be learned by others as well. Sadly, it almost certainly won’t be the last case of some chucklehead doing this sort of thing, for whom Churchill has one final warning.
“Don’t do this kind of behavior,” says Churchill. “It’s unfair to the animals, and it’s not being responsible to our wildlife.”