Bear selfies force a Colorado park to close

Humans of the world, no more bears in your snaps, OK? Your insistence is officially ruining the forest for everyone else.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack
2 min read

We were warned last year, people. And yet here are we are again. It seems enough of us have been ignoring the common-sense advice to stop taking selfies with large, dangerous wild bears in the background that one popular Denver-area park has taken the serious measure of closing to the public.

"We've actually seen people using selfie sticks to try and get as close to the bears as possible, sometimes within 10 feet of wild bears," Brandon Ransom, manager of recreation for Denver Water, which manages Waterton Canyon recreation area in the foothills outside the city, said in a blog post earlier this month. "The current situation is not conducive for the safety of our visitors or the well-being of the wildlife."

So, park managers closed the canyon to humans until bear activity subsides. On Friday, the closure was extended through the weekend and will remain in place until further notice.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), it's a particularly bad time of year to go bothering bears preparing to hibernate by trying to get them in the frame for just the right Instagram shot.

I wasn't able to find any selfies specifically from Waterton canyon that have made it on to social media, but here's an example of one from Alaska that certainly doesn't seem to be from a safe distance (Update: Shortly after publishing this story, the photographer informed me that her photo was actually taken from a Katmai National Park platform with rangers present, so this could actually be an example of a responsible bear selfie!):

"It is a poor choice from our perspective, A) to get that close to wildlife and B) to turn your back, particularly on bears," Matt Robbins, a spokesman for CPW, told KMGH-TV in Denver.

Come on, people. You're not just putting yourselves at risk, you are officially beginning to ruin it for everyone else.

If you absolutely must have a bear in your selfies, the below video includes some shots that were taken at a safe distance by park managers. Everyone will be much happier if you just Photoshop these in your backgrounds instead. The same principle, of course, applies to tigers and bison.