Watch: Tourists Unleash Rottweiler on Two Bull Elk in Canadian National Park
"Don't worry. Don't worry. He ain't no shitzu like your dog"
In a video recently shared to the @touronsofnationalparlks Instagram page, a pair of tourists can be seen unleashing a Rottweiler on two bull elk in Canada’s Banff National Park. The incident, which was captured by a concerned visitor back in 2021, is going viral amid increased warnings from Banff officials advising people to maintain a safe distance from the famous park’s rutting elk.
The post is the latest in a recent string of viral videos showing tourists behaving badly around wildlife in national parks in both the U.S. and Canada, and it may be one of the most egregious examples ever caught on film. According to photographer Alec McGrath, who shot the video from inside his car, the two dog owners got out of their truck after they spotted the elk and deliberately turned their dog loose on the wild animals.
“Guys, get your dog back on the leash,” McGrath is heard saying, as he slowly drives by the tourists and their dog. “They deal with wolves on a daily basis. They’ll kick your dog’s ass.”
But McGrath’s warnings fall on deaf ears. “Don’t worry. Don’t worry,” one of the tourists responds. “He ain’t no shitzu like your dog, probably.” Throughout the short clip, the excited dog bounds back and forth between its owners and the alarmed elk. In the foreground, there are two warning placards telling tourists to keep their distance from park wildlife. “That’s really dangerous,” a woman in the car with McGrath can be heard saying, as he pulls over on the shoulder of the road. “They’ll stomp his skull.”
While dogs are allowed in Banff National Park, they’re supposed to be kept on a leash or contained within a vehicle at all times, according to a statement on the park’s official website. “Keeping our pets on leash and under physical control at all times is the law, for both their safety and to care for the wildlife that live here,” the posted statement reads. “Off-leash dogs can trigger aggressive behaviour from wildlife such as grizzly bears and elk, or harm smaller animals.” Visitors who disregard the rule are subject to fines up to $25,000.
McGrath says he snapped a photo of the dog owner’s license plate and turned it into the appropriate authorities after he left the park that day. In the two year’s since, he hasn’t heard wether or not the tourists were ever held responsible for their actions. But Banff National Park officials contacted him today via email to inquire about the timing of the now viral video, he tells Field & Stream.
“They wanted to know if it was from this year because they didn’t have any record of it,” he said. “I told them it was from 2021, and the last time I talked to the warden, he said that it had been harder than he thought to track them down. If they ever do get charged they’re gonna be charged with having an off-leash dog in a national park, wildlife harassment, and they’ll probably be charged for animal endangerment for their own dog as well.”