As Philip de Roo was driving through the winding roads of Algonquin Park in Ontario, a group of approximately 15 people standing at the side of the road caught his eye.
“I saw a bunch of people standing at the side of the road. I assumed they were taking a picture of a moose,” de Roo said.
When de Roo took a closer look, he realized the people were trying to snap pictures of a wild black bear, just metres from where they were standing.
“I saw there was a black bear sitting about 15 feet away at max,” he said.
“I was shocked. My mind was blown. I wondered why anyone would want to do that and be that close to an animal out in the open like that, it’s so dangerous.”
De Roo decided to take a video of the people from inside his car.
“I wanted to basically explain to my kids and say this is not something that you do. If you see a black bear, don’t go running towards it with a camera,” de Roo said.
Coming within close quarters of wildlife is not only a risk to humans but also to animals said Bill Dowd, president of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control.
“When bears or any animals get accustomed to humans, they start identifying us a food source,” Dowd said.
“Bears can travel 50 feet in one second … They can run almost twice as fast as we can. In a split second that could have been very dangerous.”
In a statement, Jolanta Kowalski, senior media relations officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said the ministry “strongly recommends” people stay away from wildlife.
“These are wild animals and can be unpredictable. When humans get close to wildlife the animal starts to lose its fear of people; which puts both people and the animal in danger. Taking a selfie photo isn’t worth the risk,” she said in the statement.
In July, a Nova Scotia couple caught people on video coming within metres of a grizzly bear in Alberta.
Dowd suggests keeping as much space between wildlife, even if it means forfeiting that perfect selfie.
“People are always looking for that perfect selfie whether it’s the edge of a water cliff or a standing beside a black bear. Don’t put your life in danger to be close to a wild animal,” he said.
“The more space you can keep between you and a wild animal, the better.”
De Roo posted the video on YouTube and hopes people will learn to keep a safe distance with wildlife.
“Don’t get so close to animals. It’s something we were taught when we were children,” he said.
“Even if 100 people do it, it only takes one bear to attack that one person.”