Does Miley Cyrus care more about getting a good photo than protecting Mother Earth? That’s what some critics are saying after she posted a series of Instagram photos of herself posing on a protected Joshua tree.
The singer put up the pics in response to some apparent personal drama, writing, “Looking down at all the petty drama like....” And while she looked pretty in her floral stocking ensemble, and got a thumbs up from pals like Gigi Hadid (“Wow I love this so much,” wrote the model), it didn’t take long for people to point out that Joshua trees, which are really a plant species called Yucca brevifolia, are protected under state and federal laws. And the Joshua tree, it is noted in this explainer, grows very slowly, so if something happens to one, it could be “centuries before another takes its place.”
Cyrus has been called out over and over in the comments of her photos and on other Instagram accounts for the mistreatment of the plants. One Instagram account called Joshua Tree Hates You, which regularly points out infractions of Joshua Tree National Park visitors, posted and explanation why Cyrus shouldn’t be climbing a Joshua tree.
“Repeated abuse by tourists, (over three million visitors a year,) is slowly causing their demise, bringing them closer to being added to the endangered list,” they wrote. “Hanging, climbing, sitting, swinging, standing, leaning, touching, hugging, supporting your yoga poses, hanging hammocks (or anything else,) on these PROTECTED succulents ... are all violations [of the[ law... See a dead one? Leave that alone as well. Dead trees become habitats for local wildlife whether they are still standing or on the ground.” It ended with, “You are NOT the ONLY person thinking it may be a ‘good idea’ to use a Joshua tree as an Instagram photo prop.”
Despite imploring her to delete the photo as not to give other people any ideas, she posted more photos from the shoot— and the account posted again in response.
In the comments of all three of Cyrus’s photos, people were pretty angrily calling her out she was called “selfish” and a “damn jerk.”
“Omg please stop posting these! Joshua trees are delicate, endangered and protected by state law! They are not for climbing,” one person wrote.
“What a damn jerk! Your Instagram posts are not more important than these delicate plants that grow in only one place in the world! So selfish!” another added
“You need to educate yourself about nature. Stay off the Joshua Trees,” a comment read.
“You are gorgeous, but this behavior kills Joshua trees! And this photo encourages other to do it as well!” one fan added. “Please consider this as it’s a major issue for our area, now that we are flooded with tourist who most likely follow you. We need to take care of these old giants!”
During the government shutdown earlier this year, Joshua Tree National Park only had a limited number of park rangers staffed to work. As a result, the park was greatly impacted as rogue park-goers destroyed a number of the park’s thousands of Joshua trees. Social media photos showed that the plants had been chopped down or even driven over by cars. The former park superintendent Curt Sauer said at the time it could take 200 to 300 years for the plants to grow back.
Cyrus isn’t the first star to find herself making headlines over breaking national park rules. Fellow Disney Channel star Vanessa Hudgens had to pay a $1,000 fine after defacing a red rock at Coconino National Forest in Arizona. She carved a tribute of love to her boyfriend, Austin Butler, and posted a photo of it on Instagram. The Coconino National Forest Service spokesman Brady Smith said, "She was caught in the act because she publicized it and she's famous.”
Cyrus no longer employs a publicist and has not yet addressed the backlash on social media.
Read more on Yahoo Entertainment:
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle’s newsletter.