Black Bears Charge Towards Tourists At Yellowstone National Park

Winston Greely via MontanaFWP / Leave the equipment behind and move slowly away from the bears!

A video of fearful tourists running from a mother bear and her cubs as they attempted to cross a bridge at Yellowstone National Park has emerged this week.

Filmed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks videographer Winston Greely, the video shows park visitors fleeing from the mother bear and her cubs as Park Ranger John Kerr shouts off-camera, “Keep going! Go! Go!” Luckily, no one was hurt and the bears safely crossed back into the forest.

 

 

Video Credit: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

With their way blocked as they attempted to cross the road, the mother bear sought a new strategy to clear the path. While many tourists ran away from the charging bears, some continued to take photos as if their lives were not in any danger.

“These tourists were absolutely in danger,” said Bob Gibson, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Communication and Education Program Manager, speaking to NBC News. “Black bears are usually shy of people. But you put them with their cubs and they get really protective. You never want to be between a bear and its cub.”

Was the bear wrong for charging at the tourists? Of course it wasn’t—it’s a bear.

Yellowstone has about 1,000 “bear jams” every year, where hapless tourists exit their cars to snap photos of bears near the road, causing a traffic jam. Enraged by dozens and sometimes hundreds of humans intruding upon their territory, bears will charge at the tourists to ward them off. Imagine being stuck at the back of a queue of cars as a grizzly bear is now racing towards you. You’d probably start screaming and running—another major error, you’ve just made yourself more of a target.

“Ideally, the visitors on the bridge would have stayed in their vehicles,” said Kerry Gunther, the park's bear management program leader, speaking to Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “They instead should have grouped together on one side of the bridge and allowed the bears to pass. Yellowstone has never had a bear-caused injury among groups of three or more people.”

Fortunately for the visitors, the bear cubs were only about 13 months old and as such, their mother is less protective of them than she would have been if they were younger.

According to Yellowstone regulations, people should remain calm around bears, bunch together as a larger group if a bear does approach and definitely not start running.

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