The latest trend sweeping Twitter and Instagram? #Bearselfies.
Yes, you read that correctly. Selfies. With bears.
Selfies, as defined by Oxford English Dictionary, is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.” Thus, #Bearselfies are photos one has taken of oneself accompanied by a bear.
The phenomenon occurs when hikers and park visitors see a bear and want to share this momentous occasion with others. For those who grew up in suburban and urban settings, spotting a bear is a novelty. And for a generation that gleefully shares photos of life’s most mundane aspects, seeing a grizzly bear in the flesh definitely warrants photographic evidence.
The phenomenon has gotten so out of control in one area that the U.S. Forest Service released a statement pointing out the seemingly obvious: keep your distance when encountering bears.
At South Lake Tahoe in California, huge swarms of visitors were congregating around Taylor Creek, an area where bears come to fish during the annual Kokanee salmon run, to take photos with the wild animals.
“We’ve had mobs of people that are actually rushing toward the bears trying to get a ‘selfie’ photo,” Lisa Herron, a spokesperson for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
According to the USFS release, if visitors continue to disregard directions to stay away from the bears at Taylor Creek Visitor Centre, the Forest Service may need to close the area for public safety.
“Bears are unpredictable, wild animals may attack if threatened,” said Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson in the release. “We can’t have visitors creating dangerous situations for themselves and others. People are risking serious injury or death if they get too close to a bear.”
The release continues: “Approaching bears too closely is also putting bears at risk, since bears may be captured and killed if they attack.”
Long story short: stick to taking selfies with your BFFs, not bears.
— Rob DenBleyker (@RobDenBleyker) September 27, 2014