Tourists Caught Sprinting Toward Mama Bear and Cubs in Yellowstone

Despite constant pleas from officials and wildlife experts, tourists in Yellowstone National Park continually ignore safety guidelines and get way too close to wild animals, putting not only themselves at risk but callously putting the animals in harm’s way.

A recent video captured by South Carolina resident William Brice Spencer and shared via Storyful Viral on YouTube shows a group of tourists running toward a bear and her cubs, scaring the bears while they were walking through a field. A shorter version of the clip was posted on X (Twitter) by user Yashar Ali (@yashar).

One of the people who ran down the road toward the family of bears was even carrying a small child in their arms.

Based on the compression in Spencer’s video, he seems to have recorded the scene from a safe distance using a long lens. The same cannot be said for some people seen in the video, although they may have been further from the bears than they appear in the video due to telephoto compression.

Regardless of how close they got before the bears took off, running toward a mother bear and her cubs is a remarkably poor idea.

According to Global News, shortly after the offenders scared the bears away, a park ranger appeared on the scene and ordered park visitors back into their vehicles.

It is not clear why the people sprinted toward the adult bear and her cubs, although in the full version of the video, the bears do seem to be getting relatively close to the road while some motorists drive by at moderately high speeds.

Even if the runners were trying to scare the bear family away to prevent them from being hit by a passing car, which is by no means obviously what occurred, people should never run toward or approach wildlife. Even when animals like these bears appear calm, they can become unpredictable.

Further, mother bears are protective of their young. While this bear and her cubs ran away from the people who barreled toward them, which is the most common outcome with black bears, this situation could have turned deadly for everyone involved, people and bears alike.

Despite conventional wisdom, mother black bears are very rarely involved in fatal attacks on humans. Black bears will retreat from a perceived threat when possible.

Yellowstone National Park recommends that guests stay in their vehicles when observing wildlife. Granted, the park also says that people should never park on the road or block traffic, yet another suggestion that many people ignored in this instance.

Yellowstone is a hotbed for wildlife, making it a popular destination for photographers. While many visitors are responsible, and may even have wildlife sneak up on them, some bad actors have recently found themselves very close to disaster because they ignore safety guidelines and do not treat wildlife with the respect that wild animals deserve.

Fortunately for the bear and her cubs, these careless tourists proved to be little more than an inconvenience, but situations like this can quickly turn ugly.