A couple visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been spotted posing for selfies with one of the native black bears. Getting close to bears is always dangerous, but the pair have further complicated the situation by using a selfie stick with their backs to the animal, leaving them unable to react quickly if it begins to show signs of aggression.
In the photo, which you can see below, a third visitor is drawing even closer, despite warnings from the National Park Service (NPS) that approaching within 50 yards, or any distance that disturbs or displaces a bear, is illegal and can result in arrest and fines.
This particular incident, which is believed to have happened this week, was captured by Kristina Becker and shared on Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, which calls out bad behavior at sites of natural beauty around the world.
A photo posted by on
Hiking season is in full swing at US National Parks, and there has been a spate of incidents where visitors have been caught snapping pictures of wildlife at dangerously close range.
Within the last few weeks, a woman was spotted trying to pet a bison while taking selfies, a couple were seen using another bison as a photo prop, and a pair of tourists were seen running for their lives after trying to take pictures of a newborn elk.
The NPS responded by posting a warning on Twitter, asking people to act responsibly and use their phone or camera's zoom to take photos from a safe distance without disturbing animals.
Amazing capture! We get it---national parks have some great opportunities for photo-ops. While we want you to capture all of the splendor of a park, make sure and take pictures responsibly. pic.twitter.com/tQpEJeM6SSJune 15, 2023
If you want to learn how to take better pictures of animals in their natural habitat, we recently spoke to professional wildlife photographer Emma Jacobs, who shared some of her best advice.
“Move slowly and quietly, even after you've taken the photo so you don't disturb the animal," she says, "Keep in mind that you have no control over wildlife, but that's what makes your subject so interesting! If it flies or crawls away, look for another – you will be rewarded in the end! All you can do is put yourself in the right place and be patient.”
See the full interview with Emma for more tips to help you get the perfect shot.
The best binoculars and monoculars: enjoy wildlife from a safe distance