Amateur wildlife photographer learns what happens when you get too close to a bear

Black bear on Road Mr Rainier, Washington, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

A woman got more than she'd bargained for on a recent visit to Jasper National Park, Canada, when she made the mistake of trying to get close-up photos of a black bear without using a zoom lens. The unlucky amateur photographer was one of over a dozen visitors who left their cars to get a better look at the animal foraging at the roadside. All were much too close for comfort, and the bear made its agitation known by lunging at the nearest person, who barely managed to dodge out of the way.

A video of the incident, which you can see below, was shared this week via Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, which calls out bad behavior at sites of natural beauty. Other recent close calls have included a woman taking her young daughter onto rocks overlooking a raging waterfall, and a man poking a moose, with predictable results. Be warned, there are some loud car horns at the end of the clip.

If you spot a bear at the roadside, Parks Canada advises driving slowly rather than stopping to minimize your impact on the animal, and warning other motorists by using your hazard lights. Be very careful if other people have parked carelessly, as this can obstruct your view, and be aware of people and animals in the road.

If you want to enjoy the moment, you should pull over safely in a pull-off. Watch and take photos from inside your car, and don't crowd or obstruct the bear. This is particularly important in late summer and fall, as the bears increase their feeding activity to put on the essential fat that will help them survive hibernation.

"Visitors often do not realize that their enthusiasm and excitement to take pictures and to view a bear in the wild causes them to get too close or to crowd these sensitive animals," says Parks Canada. "These inadvertent behaviours force bears to abandon good foraging roadside for inferior habitat that is free of humans. It also requires them to expend unnecessary energy to travel and locate alternate places to feed."

For advice on how to get better wildlife photos without disturbing animals, take a look at our interview with professional photographer Emma Jacobs, where she shares her six top tips.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.