Don’t take selfies with bears.
That’s the reminder Colorado’s Aspen Police Department issued recently after a crowd surrounded a mama bear and her cubs coming down from a tree near a mall Wednesday, KUSA reported.
It was a “fairly large crowd of photo takers and those that insisted on trying ot get close enough to take selfies,” Sgt. Rob Fabrocini told KUSA.
“We were trying to do the best we can to keep people away, but it’s a large area and people get by us,” Fabrocini told KUSA. “There was a woman holding a child within 5 feet of the bear trying to take a selfie with her back to the bear, which was very aggravating to see that.”
The situation escalated, KUSA reported. People were not only putting themselves and their children in harm’s way, but also endangering the bears, Fabrocini said.
“At one point, (the bears) made a run for it,” Fabrocini told KUSA. “They got away, but people followed them and the mom got separated from the cubs. She returned to the mall, clearly agitated, and crying out, looking for her cubs, and people were still approaching her, getting within 5 or 6 feet of her.”
On Thursday, the bears returned. This time, people kept their distance, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife tranquilized and removed the bears, KUSA reported.
Aspen police issued multiple warnings on Facebook. One was a more playful “selfie strike,” equating the frenzied photographers with paparazzi. The other was more stern.
“These bears went through quite an ordeal last night,” a Sept. 14 post said. “And we’re not quite sure why they decided to go up the same tree today, most comfy branches in town perhaps? But we do know one thing, we could do a better job as a community to set these bears up for success.”
Mobs of selfie seekers have not only angered animals, they’ve caused deaths, according to multiple reports.
A baby dolphin died in August after hundreds of people swarmed it on a Spanish beach and passed it around to take pictures with it, the Washington Post reported. Another dolphin died after a similar situation last year in Argentina.
Yellowstone National Park had a spate of bison attacks in 2015, in part thanks to tourists getting to close for the animals’ comfort, the Post reported.
A 43-year-old woman was thrown in the air after trying to take a selfie with a bison — and her 6-year-old daughter, the Post reported. A 16-year-old was gored while taking a group photo with her back turned to the animal. When officials arrived to help her, tourists remained within 10 feet of the same bison that injured her.