Video compilation shows why you should never chase, harass, or pet a bear

Cinnamon black bear at Yellowstone National Park, USA
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Intentionally approaching and disturbing wildlife in US National Parks is illegal, but it seems the temptation to get a closer look at a bear sometimes overwhelms common sense. A video compilation posted by Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone last week shows visitors crowding bears, sprinting after them to take photos, and in one case even trying to pet one while it's feeding.

Sometimes the animals ignore this behavior, but occasionally (as with the petting incident) it crosses a line and the animal charges. Thankfully everyone seems to escape without injury, but things could easily have gone differently.

It's not clear where all the clips were filmed, but some appear to have been shot at National Parks and other areas where the dangers of distracting wildlife are clearly posted.

As several commenters noted, deliberately getting close to bears is dangerous to both people and animals. If a bear attacks a human, even if threatened, it's likely to be euthanized for public safety.

If caught, visitors who approach bears risk fines, and even jail time. In 2021, a woman from Illinois was prosecuted for approaching a grizzly and her cubs at Yellowstone.

As the Guardian reported at the time, Samantha Dehring was jailed for four days, fined $1,000, and ordered to make a $1,000 community service payment after pleading guilty to "willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards".

"The park is not a zoo where animals can be viewed within the safety of a fenced enclosure," said attorney Bob Murray. "They roam freely in their natural habitat and when threatened will react accordingly. Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish. Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist."

For advice on how to stay safe, see our guides what to do if you meet a bear and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.

Cat Ellis

Cat is Homes Editor at TechRadar and former editor of Advnture. She's been a journalist for 15 years, and cut her teeth on magazines before moving online. She helps readers choose the right tech for their home, get the best deals, and do more with their new devices.