Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Stop Taking Wildlife Selfies!

Via Tundra Comics
It was an absolutely beautiful summer day in Canada’s Banff National Park. Our mini-van was stuffed full of our belongings, let alone our four children with their noses pressed up against the windows as we were on our way to meet up with some old college friends for a camping trip. We came around a bend in the highway only to see a slew of cars pulled over just off the side of the road. Finally, our first up-close Banff wildlife sighting!

We piled out of the van and looked toward the edge of the meadow where we saw a massive elk making its way out of the edge of the tree line, its antlers still covered in velvet. At that time, it was the closest I’d ever been to such a majestic and extremely LARGE bull. We kept our distance and snapped what would turn out to be a couple of longer range fuzzy photos. Others seemed to take their lives in their hands by creeping closer and closer to snap a keepsake.

My brother, a biologist, has a saying for such encounters: “This is not Disneyland.” In other words, wild animals are wild. They are not warm and fuzzy cartoon-like characters. They are unpredictable and can be dangerous or even deadly. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some folks who either don’t know any better or like to tempt fate. 

The U.S. Forest Service recently issued a news release calling on visitors seeking to get too close to bear activity at a Kokanee salmon spawn in California. The release states some people are ignoring posted directions putting both themselves and the bears in danger.

And when you add social media into the mix, other folks are bound and determined to get what could be life-threatening selfies. It’s getting just plain ridiculous. Case in point, check out the tweet below recently published by OutdoorHub. It shows a selfie of a man taken in Alaska with a bear over his shoulder. Would you ever for any reason turn your back on a bear if you knew it was behind you? Seriously, would you?

Look at the photo below taken near Evergreen, Colorado. It sums up poor behavior in an up-close and disturbing kind of way. Watching it makes me cringe. (Click here to see what I mean.)

Bull elk vs. cell phone photographer

So if you spot a bull elk in a meadow, a bear in the forest or any kind of wild animal on a wild landscape, go ahead and pull out your cell phone or camera but remain at a safe distance and be careful. After all, this isn’t Disneyland.

Mark Holyoak
RMEF Director of Communication

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