Driver fined almost $600 after chasing bear and sharing video on WhatsApp

Brown bear in field in Latvia
(Image credit: Getty)

A motorist in Lativa has been fined €600 (almost $600) for chasing a brown bear down a forest trail, forcing the animal to run at full speed. The driver recorded the incident, and shared the video via WhatsApp with the caption "Beautiful, no?"

The footage was recorded at night, with the person driving behind the bear at 25-30km/h (15.5-16.6mph), forcing it to sprint flat-out.

Bears are unable to sustain that speed for long, and the driver continued the pursuit for over two minutes. The incident also took place during unseasonably warm weather, when temperatures were as high as 29°C (84.2°F).

"In the opinion of experts, this is not a simple disturbance, but a violent act. The bear is not capable of running for a long time," Jānis Ozoliņš, leading researcher at the Latvian State Forestry Institute, told Latvian public broadcasting site Latvia.LV.

"Moreover, at this moment, when the bears are preparing for hibernation, it is important for them to accumulate energy reserves, not to consume them. Therefore, a longer pursuit of the bear could even end with serious health problems,"

The Latvian Nature Conservation Agency (DAP) put out a call for members of the public to help identify the driver, and on October 31, the organization reported that the individual had been identified and fined for their treatment of a protected species. They may face further charges from the Food and Veterinary Service in accordance with the Animal Protection Act.

There are only around 60 wild brown bears in Latvia, and people have been warned not to disturb or feed the animals to prevent food conditioning or habituation, which increase the likelihood of close encounters with humans. For advice on what to do if you come into close quarters with one, see our guide what to do if you meet a bear.

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.