A recent video posted to a popular Instagram page is a prime example of how not to behave in bear country. The now-viral clip, posted on August 4, shows a throng of camera-wielding tourists crowding a sow grizzly as she ushers her two cubs through a meadow in Yellowstone. Yellowstone tourists are notorious for these kinds of stunts, and videos like this emerge regularly this time of year, but this is one you have to see to believe.
According to the caption, the incident occurred near Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Geyser, about seven miles north of Old Faithful, and it was captured by Instagram user @jes_vanatta. "Momma grizzly and her two 2 year old cubs," wrote Vanatta in the caption, "told people to leave and no one moved. I tried my best to get them away but man these people were clueless. We eventually had to bail but they were getting even closer as I left.”
It's unclear how the scene unfolded after Vanatta stopped filming. But it's safe to say that the individuals in the video were entirely too close and too comfortable with the sow grizz and her two cubs.
The National Park Service advises visitors to maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and other large predators at all times and says you should never approach a bear in order to take a photo. Sadly, that advice goes unheeded quite frequently in America's first National Park, where uniformed tourists routinely encroach on bison, bull elk, and grizzly bears alike.
Earlier this year, a Hawaiian man attempted to "save" a newborn bison by grabbing it and pulling it up an embankment near the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek. Another man made national headlines when he took off his shirt and intentionally harassed multiple bears and at least one wolf. In October 2021, an Illinois woman who posed for a photo just feet from a sow grizzly with three cubs was fined, jailed, and banned from the park for “willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards."
Penalties and steep fines notwithstanding, the abysmal behavior keeps on occurring. And the problem isn't confined to Yellowstone. Here are a few more examples of tourists risking life and limb around wild animals in National Parks.