Blame Yogi. Blame the Care Bears. Blame Refrigerator Perry. Who knows, but somewhere along the way folks have decided that bears are cuddly, adorable, and not at all going to maul them. And also that they are, like, totally awesome to take selfies with.
Seriously, didn't anyone see Grizzly Man?
Yep, bear selfies have become something of an unwanted trend at Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe, California, where park authorities are now urging the dumbest people in the history of the planet to stop approaching the furry creatures to take photos and videos.
“Bears are unpredictable, wild animals, and may attack if threatened”, Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson said in a recently released statement that advised the morons to stick to walking trails, and stay away from wild animals.
“We can’t have visitors creating dangerous situations for themselves and others", Gibson added. "People are risking serious injury or death if they get too close to a bear."
The warning comes during peak bear season, when black bears are out en masse due to the influx of kokanee salmon, one of their favorite snacks (after Cheez-Its).
Rather than slowly backing away (while keeping the animal in your sight) like you're supposed to do when crossing paths with a black bear, visitors appear more concerned with Instagram likes and are approaching the animals to get a better shot.
The problem is, selfie-takers aren't just opening themselves up to danger. They're also risking the bears' lives; authorities will have no choice other than to put down bears if they're provoked to attack. And a camera flash is likely to do exactly that.
Anyway, it's not the first (or last) time people have taken risks around dangerous animals for a photo op. Not long ago, two women off Cape Cod had their kayaks attacked by a Great White shark while taking photos of seals.
The lesson, though, should be painfully obvious: don't be a dumbass. Also, resist the temptation to supplement your Instagram feed and leave the animals alone.
You don't want to be there when they get angry.