People visiting parks for camping or hiking trips are often warned about the dangers of feeding animals or leaving food out at their campgrounds. What about getting too close to an animal for a photo, though? At Jasper National Park, there's an increasing problem with visitors going too far to get the perfect wildlife photo for Instagram.
One video on YouTube shows the problem in action. Captured by Ingrid Schifer, the video shows two people taunting a bear in order to get a better photo of it. The bear appears to get agitated, but the motorists continue snapping photos.
Narcity spoke with Schifer about her experience seeing people acting irresponsibly when trying to capture photos of the local wildlife.
"This past weekend driving through Jasper, I saw a grizzly, and there were 30 or more cars all stopped," she said. "Everyone was out of their vehicles, approaching the animal, definitely at an unsafe distance."
Schifer said the bear appeared to be agitated by all of the people around it. "It just takes one incident and that animal loses its life, not to mention the obvious danger to the people as well."
"It’s frustrating because the parks do a good job in communicating not to feed animals, but there should be more education about how to photograph animals," Schifer said, highlighting the fact that this is a relatively new issue. It seems like people are going to great lengths to get those social media likes.
This wasn't even the only instance of people being too aggressive in their search for the perfect wildlife photo. "A few kilometres further, there were another 30 cars or so," Schifer said. "Photographers were just running right up and taking pictures of this mother bear with her cubs."
Any wildlife expert can tell you why it's probably not a good idea to approach a mama bear with her cubs. And yet people did so, all in order to capture some precious internet karma.
"Once one person does it, everyone thinks that it’s okay," Schifer said. "I’m in social media so I appreciate the value of a good photo, but people should be a lot safer."
Jasper National Park has gone so far as to remove the bear report from their website. This is to give the animals space from people. Schifer also said that she was contacted by a park warden looking for more information on the people in her YouTube video. It would seem that the park is taking bigger and more drastic steps to reduce this problem.