BOZEMAN — A Bozeman man’s three-minute video of hundreds of elk hopping a fence and crossing a road east of Bozeman — and the perseverance of one straggler to keep up with the group — is an online hit.
“I was very surprised,” Austin Stonnell, 19, said. “I mean, it’s a video about elk.”
Stonnell was coming home from work when he spotted the herd of elk in a field where there are usually cows, he said.
“I quickly got into my house, grabbed my camera and came back,” he said.
Hundreds of animals cleared the fence and continued on into a snowy field within the first minute, but the final elk makes several unsuccessful efforts to hop over and walk through the fence.
The straggler walks up and down the fence line and finally backs up and gets a running start before clearing the barrier and joining the herd, including three that appeared to stay back and wait.
Stonnell said he posted the video on Facebook and when it got 15 “likes” he thought: “might as well put it on YouTube.” He uploaded his video titled “Massive herd of elk in Montana” on March 27. It had more than 1.3 million hits by Wednesday.
Stonnell said some of the comments questioned why he didn’t do something to help the last elk.
“I tried thinking of a way to help it, but there’s not much you can do,” Stonnell said. “I didn’t want to get clobbered.”
Some questioned whether the video was real.
Stonnell said the herd is typically visible from his house.
“I made a second video because the elk came back,” he said.
Stonnell is from Camano Island, Wash., and is living in Bozeman to gain residency so he can pursue a chemical engineering degree at Montana State University.