Shirtless tourist caught chasing wolf at Yellowstone likely different to serial bear-botherer

Close-up of black wolf
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A viral video showing a man chasing a black wolf through Yellowstone National Park is recirculating on social media this week, but an investigation by the National Park Service (NPS) suggests that this is not the same individual seen harassing black bears last year.

The wolf video (which you can see below) was shot in the Lamar Valley by wildlife photographer Derek Nielsen, who subsequently helped authorities follow up the incident.

The clip bears a similarity to three videos of a man pulling off his shirt and chasing bears, which were reportedly filmed at Yellowstone last year. However, after receiving reports from members of the public, the NPS determined that the bear videos were not shot there, or at any other US National Park.

"The park takes all reports of animal harassment very seriously,” Yellowstone National Park head of public affairs Morgan Warthin told Outdoor Life. “The investigation led by park law enforcement officers recently revealed that the incidents did not occur in Yellowstone, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, or in any other national park. We have no additional information to share."

It is illegal to feed, touch, tease, frighten, or intentionally disturb wildlife in any US National Park, including wolves and bears, and visitors found guilty of doing so can face fines and jail time. In 2021, 25-year-old Samantha Dehring of Illinois was fined and sentenced to four days in custody after approaching a mother grizzly bear and cubs to take photos.

"Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish," said acting US attorney Bob Murray on behalf of the District of Wyoming at the time. "Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist."

Visitors to Yellowstone are warned to stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) from elk, bison and moose, and 100 yards (900 meters) from bears and wolves. Although there are no reports of a wolf attacking a person at the park, approaching and feeding the animals can lead them to lose their natural wariness around people, presenting a potential risk. The NPS explains that two habituated wolves have been killed in the park for public safety.

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.