Apparently, the temptation to click a selfie with a large, furry (and dangerous) bear in the background is simply too hard to resist for some people. An alarmingly large number of tourists at South Lake Tahoe in California are taking in this latest craze despite warnings from the US Forest Service to leave the animals alone, or risk facing a gruesome end.
Most people don’t seem to realize that while bears are normally timid creatures, they are also quite unpredictable. “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.”
“Visitor Center staff routinely encounter unsafe situations as guests ignore their instructions and get too close to bears to take photos and videos,” the Forest service warned. There are several reports of visitors straying off trails to get a closer look at the bears, and leaving the safety of their cars to see if they can take what is now being referred to as a “bear selfie”.
According to Lisa Herron, a spokesperson for the Lake Tahoe Management Unit, mobs of people had actually rushed towards a bear to get a picture. “We are telling people they need to stay on the trails and they need to stay away from the bears,” she said. “If a bear has a mind to, it can run very fast. It is presenting a safety issue. We are afraid someone is going to get attacked.”
In addition to clicking selfies, Herron said that people were stopping their cars along the California State Route 89 and running across the highway to get a closer look at the animals. And this kind of behavior puts the bears at risk too, officials say. “Approaching bears too closely is also putting bears at risk, since bears may be captured and killed if they attack.”
Unfortunately, it seems like people are so crazy about clicking photographs that they just don’t care about warnings.The problem is getting so bad that the Forest Service is actually considering closing down the area completely. And it’s not just at Lake Tahoe, the ‘bear selfie’ craze has reached Canada as well, where pictures are being posted to social media websites.
There have been at least two fatal attacks by black bears and three by larger grizzlies in North America this year. The most recent attack occurred in New Jersey last month, where 22-year-old hiker Dash Patel was stalked and killed by a black bear. But most social media users are oblivious of these incidents – they continue to proudly post their ‘bear selfies’ on sites like Instagram and Twitter.
Photos: Instagram, Twitter