I’m a big fan of selfies, and truth be told, I take a lot of them. Sometimes it’s because I (somewhat narcissistically … ) want to document where I am. Sometimes it’s because I want a human subject in my photos and I’m all that I’ve got.
So yeah, I have no problem with selfies.
But do you know what does get my goat (pun intended!)? The recklessness of some of the people who are taking them. Specifically, it’s the people who take way-too-close selfies with dangerous wildlife, without realizing that they are putting their lives, as well as the lives of the animals, at risk.
I know I sound like the fun police but please hear me out.
The news this summer has been full of stories of people getting injured (or worse) while trying to take pictures with large or dangerous animals. There was the guy who earned himself a $153,000 hospital bill after being bit by a rattlesnake. There was the woman who was charged by a bison in Yellowstone. And there was the guy in Spain that was gored to death by a bull (not actually wildlife … but also not cuddly!).
And then there are the bear selfies, which are apparently becoming a “thing”. The problem has gotten so that Denver Water recently closed Waterton Canyon because people were getting too close to the resident bear population in order to take pictures with them.
Look, you guys, I get it. I get the desire to take pictures of, and sometimes with, large animals. Taking selfies is fun and apparently nothing looks better in the background of a Facebook profile pic than a big ass moose or bear or bison. But it’s also a really bad idea.
Fall is here and that means a lot more than just the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. For those of us in the northern climates, it means a lot of animals are on the move. The bears are eating their weight in berries before a long winter of hibernation. Deer, elk, and moose are starting to enter the rut season when their antlers are big, their hormones are raging, and they have *ahem* more important things on their mind than posing for pictures with you. Just yesterday I read an account from a wildlife photographer who had a run-in with a bull moose while standing plenty far away from it. He was able safely scurry to safety but think about how bad it could have been if he was closer or more inexperienced. Fall is not the time to mess with these critters.
This isn’t just about keeping you safe. It’s about keeping the animals safe as well. Do you know what happens to a wild animal that gets too accustomed to being around humans or, worse, attacks one? It’s not a happy ending.
I’m not saying that all wildlife photography is bad or risky. I’m just saying that you need to be smart and that getting close to (and then turning your back on) dangerous megafauna is probably not a great idea.
If you’re hellbent on having a large and dangerous wild animal posing with you in your Facebook picture, it may be time to brush up on your Photoshop skills. Or you could do what I do and just stick to selfies with dogs and donkeys.
Happy Monday, everyone! Be safe out there!