It’s been a banner year for bad behavior in Yellowstone National Park, and the video evidence just keeps on piling up. The latest offense might be the most brazen and flat-out ignorant example of all. It features two full-grown men—one of whom is holding a small child—taking off in a dead sprint toward a sow black bear that was grazing off the side of the road with her two cubs. You can watch a shortened version of the clip below or visit Storyful on Youtube for the original version.
It was captured during a traffic jam by a South Carolina resident named William Brice Spencer. According to Spencer, who sold the video footage to Storyful, the charging tourists startled the sow black bear and her cubs, but no further details about the incident were immediately available.
At the beginning of the video, the sow is seen grazing on grass and digging up roots less than 10 yards from the side of the road with her cubs close to her side. Up on the road, a predictable traffic jam grows while tourists stop the flow of traffic in order to stand outside of their vehicles and snap cell-phone photos of the three bears in their natural habitat.
Then a woman in a red T-shirt springs from a sedan and points at the bears. Whatever she said to a man in a blue collared shirt behind her must have been inspiring because he immediately took off running. Not to be outdone, another man followed close at his heels. When a third fellow joined in on the fleet-footed caravan of idiocy, the bears disappeared from view, and the video cut out.
It’s not clear what part of the park this incident occurred in. Last week, we reported on a similar scene that unfolded earlier this month near the world-famous Old Faithful Geyser. In that video, dozens of tourists got dangerously close to a female grizzly with cubs.
As anyone who’s ever visited Yellowstone should know, the National Park Service (NPS) requires visitors to maintain a safe distance between themselves and the wild critters that call the park home. For large carnivores like black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions, the recommendation is 100 yards—at the very least. When encountering large grazers like bison and elk, the official recommendations shrinks to about 25 yards.
“The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be,” NPS advises on the official Yellowstone website. “Use pullouts to watch wildlife and let other cars pass. Stay with your vehicle if you encounter a wildlife jam.” Those precautions were either disregarded or inffectively communicated to the tourists in this video. NPS did not immediately respond when contacted by Field & Stream for comment.