Pushing one’s luck with large wild critters seems to be all the rage in Yellowstone National Park this year.
And to make matters worse, people are getting their small children involved.
In the latest, and perhaps most egregious display, a group of people — including a man with a child in his arms — were caught on video leaving their vehicles and sprinting directly toward a mother black bear with two cubs.
Another video shows a crowd hemming in a mother grizzly with cubs, with some of the people appearing to be only a few yards away from the bears.
And for the second time this season, somebody took video of a man carrying a small child dangerously close to bison, which appear highly agitated by the humans invading their space.
‘It Won’t Happen To Me’
Jen Mignard of Billings, Montana, has been chronicling bad behavior in the park since 2016 through her social media site “Yellowstone National Park: Invasion of the Idiots!”
She told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that this year’s tourist season is about the worst she’s ever seen.
“It has been a bad year for stupid tourist tricks without many natural consequences,” she said.
So far, only one severe wildlife-related injury has been reported in Yellowstone this summer. In July, a bison charged and gored a 47-year-old Arizona woman near Lake Lodge.
Mignard said she’s worried there will be more casualties if people don’t start wising up.
“At some point someone will get severely injured, but the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mentality will likely prevail,” she said.
Is Charging At Bears A Thing Now?
The bear-charging video is particularly cringeworthy.
The footage shows a typical “bear jam,” as cars back up on a Yellowstone road so people can get a look at a female black bear with two cubs eating grass near the roadway. Most of the folks seem to be doing the right thing, staying in their cars to enjoy the sight.
After about 30 seconds, some people can be seen getting out of their cars. About a minute and 40 seconds into the video, a group of people appear in the upper frame, getting out of their vehicle.
A woman in a red shirt can be seen pointing at the bears. Then three men who are with her — one of them who picks up a young girl — start sprinting right at the bears. As they close in, mama bear and one of the cubs run away, out of the frame. The second cub lingers for a few more seconds before following them.
The sheer disrespect and stupidity of the act reflects the antics of an as-yet-unidentified man seen in several videos posted online jumping out of his car to charge at black bears near the roadside.
In most of the videos, the bears run away. But in one clip, the bear stands its ground then starts going after him, as the man yelps and sprints back to his vehicle.
The National Park Service investigated those videos, but determined they probably were not taken in Yellowstone.
However, professional wildlife photographer Derek Nielsen recently told Cowboy State Daily that the man in those videos bears a strong resemblance to an unidentified man he photographed charging after wolves in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley in 2020.
Dummies Vs. Bison
Cowboy State Daily reader David Morris emailed a video clip he took Saturday of a man with a child in his arms standing way too close to two bison. At one point in the video, a woman also steps into the frame, apparently using her cellphone to snap photos over his shoulder.
The huge beasts don’t appear to be at all happy with the humans being that near to them. One of them grunts menacingly toward the people a couple of times before turning to leave.
That mirrors another incident earlier this month when video showed two men walking right up to a bison near Old Faithful. One of them was dressed all in red, while the other one was holding a toddler.
Finally, in a collective display of epic foolhardiness, another recent video shows a gaggle of people practically surrounding a mother grizzly with two cubs near Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Springs.
In the video, posted on the Instagram account “touronsofyellowstone” some of the people appear to be only a few yards away from the bears.
Park Service regulations state that people must stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other wildlife in Yellowstone and Teton National Park.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.