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What’s a picture of a bear really worth?

With the fatal grizzly bear attack inside Yellowstone National Park last month, and more than a dozen non-fatal grizzly bear attacks in North America so far this year, you’d think that the average Yellowstone visitor would be a little more cautious than normal. However, a recent video shows a number of park visitors within feet of a free-roaming grizzly bear, and acting as if they were at petting zoo.

In this shocking video, parents with young children and adults of all ages stood and gawked, or even moved in closer for better pictures, while a curious grizzly approached a road full of stopped cars and dozens of people standing outside their vehicles. This begs the question, what’s a picture of a grizzly really worth?

To add further fuel to the concern that people are getting careless as they head into the bear’s domain, as of today we have confirmation that a second visitor to the Yellowstone Park was killed by a bear this year. Hikers found the body last week on a trail about five miles away from the nearest trailhead. Investigators were not sure initially whether a bear had caused the man’s death, or just disturbed his remains after he had died. The results of an autopsy released today confirm the man died as a result of traumatic injuries from a bear attack. The victim was identified as 59-year-old John Wallace of Chassell, Michigan.

Ignoring park warnings and safety pamphlets that visitors are given when entering Yellowstone, and despite the laws in place to protect both humans and wildlife, the people in this video should consider themselves very lucky that no one was harmed or arrested.

“It’s illegal, it’s reckless, and it’s stupid! Protect yourself, be cognizant of the people around you,” Al Nash, Yellowstone Chief of Public Affairs, stated emphatically when he was asked about the video by a reporter from NBC.

Nash says that it’s a law that visitors remain at least one hundred yards away from bears and wolves at all times.

Nash reminds us that, “Americans know how far a hundred yards is, that’s the length of a football field.”

What Should Have Happened Here

Obviously, the park visitors should have obeyed the law and displayed a little common sense by getting back into their vehicles and rolling up the windows while the bear was still 100 yards away. Having young children myself, it is deeply disturbing to see these parents with young kids trying to get a close-up view of a deadly wild animal. The grizzly could have snatched up a child and run off at a speed which no human could match.

In the beginning of the video, you can hear a child saying, “I really want to see him up close.” What happened to a parents’ responsibility of protecting their kids from the things that children don’t realize are unsafe?

Let’s consider these people very fortunate, and very lucky. Hopefully, this video will serve as a warning before anyone else gets hurt this year.

For more information on grizzly bear behavior, check out www.centerforwildlifeinformation.org.

– Video by Peak Video Productions