Taking a “selfie” with a mature bear may be a no-brainer for many people—especially those with strong self-preservation instincts—but it seems that the issue was puzzling enough to require clarification from the US Forest Service. The agency’s Lake Tahoe Basin branch released a warning last week that advised visitors in the area, specifically in the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, to avoid getting too close to bears for photo-taking opportunities.
“Bears are unpredictable, wild animals and may attack if threatened,” said Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson. “We can’t have visitors creating dangerous situations for themselves and others. People are risking serious injury or death if they get too close to a bear.”
Taking a photo is one thing, but getting close enough to one of the bears to include yourself in the picture as well is just plain dangerous. Yet it seems that enough people do it to make it a serious problem.
Check out one of the “bear selfies” below:
— Rob DenBleyker (@RobDenBleyker) September 27, 2014
“We’ve had mobs of people that are actually rushing toward the bears trying to get a ‘selfie’ photo,” Forest Service spokesperson Lisa Herron told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The annual run of Kokanee salmon has brought a large amount of bears to the creek, and with them come nature watchers. While most of the bears are content to fish for fatty salmon, wildlife officials are concerned that bear conflicts will rise if people keep approaching the animals. This time of year bears are packing on their last few pounds before winter, and they can become increasingly bold. With tourists wandering off the trails for a few snapshots of a hungry bear, officials are concerned that conflict is inevitable. Although there have been no injuries so far, one group of visitors did report a bear charging them.
“If visitors continue to disregard directions to stay away from bears at Taylor Creek, the Forest Service may close the area for public safety,” stated the Forest Service. “Approaching bears too closely is also putting bears at risk, since bears may be captured and killed if they attack.”
Image courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife