News stories of badly behaved tourists in Yellowstone National Park have been going viral all summer, and they only keep coming.
In the latest instance, a group of visitors were captured on video as they ran toward a mother black bear and her cubs in the Wyoming park.
South Carolina resident William Brice Spencer filmed the video while vacationing in the area. Though Spencer recorded the footage from a safe distance, a number of other Yellowstone visitors didn’t pay the same respect.
The bears appeared to be ignoring the nearby traffic on the road — and those rubbernecking from their vehicles.
Spencer told the social media company Storyful that as he was filming, he witnessed several people “sprinting towards a mama black bear with two cubs.”
Many from the group of tourists ran toward the bear and her cubs at full speed. One man carried a child in his arms as he sprinted toward the wild animal. The three bears fled the grassy area as the runners approached.
Spencer said a park ranger then arrived and ordered everyone back into their vehicles.
Yellowstone National Park requires visitors to stay at least 25 yards (23 metres) away from all wildlife, including elk and bison. Bears and wolves should be given at least 100 yards (91 metres) of space.
According to Parks Canada, one should never run to or from a bear, as it may trigger an active pursuit from the animal. Interacting with an animal with cubs especially is particularly dangerous, as protective motherly instincts can kick in.
Still, many recent Yellowstone guests have opted not to abide by safety regulations in an attempt to get closer to nature in the park. Larry Bloomfield, a tour guide for West Yellowstone, told the Montana TV station KBZK that human-animal interaction in the area has “gotten a lot worse” in recent years.
“We’re seeing people being more brazen,” Bloomfield said.
Yellowstone spokesperson Linda Veress told the outlet that although there are no statistics cataloguing bad behaviour, “visitors are doing things they shouldn’t be doing, every day.”
Many will attempt to get close enough to take a photo of — or even a selfie with — a wild animal.
Some people on social media have even gone so far as to create entire accounts dedicated to showing the unsafe behaviours of many Yellowstone Park guests.
Two weeks ago, the Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone (a play on the words ‘tourists’ and ‘morons’) shared a video that allegedly depicted a group of over a dozen excited tourists crowding a mother grizzly bear and her cubs to take photos.
In both recent instances involving bears, no one was hurt, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to interact with wild animals.
Just last month, a woman died in Yellowstone Park after an “apparent grizzly bear encounter.” The attack came amid a rise in Montana’s grizzly bear population and an increase in sightings in recent years.
The week prior, Yellowstone made headlines when a woman was gored by a bison while walking through a field near Lake Yellowstone. She was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries, including seven spine fractures and bilateral collapsed lungs.
In June, park officials had to remind visitors yet again to keep their distance from wildlife after someone grabbed an elk calf, put it in their car and drove it to a nearby police station.
A few weeks before that, Yellowstone officials also had to euthanize a newborn bison calf after it was lifted by a park guest while attempting to cross a river. As a result of the human contact, the calf was abandoned by its herd.
The National Park Service has encouraged all visitors to take the Yellowstone Pledge, which urges people to act responsibly and safely around wildlife and set a good example for others.
Those camping and visiting Yellowstone Park are asked to carry bear spray, store their food while outside and tend to their garbage to avoid encounters with bears.