Forest Service: Bear Selfies Could Force Park Closure

Most people realize that getting close to a huge, wild animal while it is feeding isn't such a great idea, but apparently some people need to be told by the Forest Service that taking a selfie with a bear just might be dangerous.

Visitors have been taking selfies with the bears that feed on the annual run of kokanee salmon at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center in South Lake Tahoe, and Forest Service staff say that the craze is getting out of hand.

"We've had mobs of people that are actually rushing toward the bears trying to get a 'selfie' photo," Lisa Herron, a spokeswoman for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Visitors have been posting selfies, such as the one below, to Instagram, and the trend has become so popular it even has its own hashtag, #bearselfie

A woman takes a selfie with a a dangerous bear approaching from behind
A woman takes a selfie with a a dangerous bear approaching from behind

Herron said that in addition to taking bear selfies, people are stopping their cars along the highway and running across it to get a closer look at the animals. They are even going off trails, through the forest, and over the creek to get closer to the bears.

According to Herron, one group has been charged by a bear -- but luckily, there were no injuries.

"We are telling people they need to stay on the trails and they need to stay away from the bears," she said."If a bear has a mind to it can run very fast."

Recent visitor Manutsawee Buapet told ABC News she saw dozens of people taking bear selfies and that the bears did not seem to be afraid of the group.

"One bear cub came as close as two feet to the tourists," she said.

Bears are normally docile, and attacks are rare. However, disturbing the animals in their natural habitat increases the danger, and the bears may attack if they feel threatened, such as this Canadian grizzly reported recently by the Inquisitr.

The bear selfie trend has prompted Forest Service staff to post warning signs asking visitors not to take photos with the bears, but according to USA Today, officials are threatening to close down the area if that is what it takes to stop the dangerous practice.

"It is very possible, yes," Herron said. "It is presenting a safety issue. We are afraid someone is going to get attacked."

Would you put your life in danger to take a picture with a bear?

[Images via Time and Mail Online]