Selfie Sticks, Unrealistic Expectations, Disruption, And A Baby Bison In A Car

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

Oh, the crimes against humanity.

I haven’t had the opportunity to travel much lately, but I hear it’s getting rough out there in the world. I don’t even spend enough time over in San Francisco to notice what the tourists are up to these days by way of claiming their space, but I hear that selfie-sticks, and high expectations are a part of the scene.

Another part of the scene seems to be disruption. When I read the news about the Baby Bison that got picked up by the un-named tourists in Yellowstone, I ran a gamut of emotions. Anger at the stupidity of it. Sadness for the needless loss. Feeling remiss in that I haven’t been doing my part in educating my readers about caring for the wonders of the world.

The National Park System has reported that there are more and more people taking extreme chances in nature with their selfie-sticks. Both Mashable and Vice have run multiple reports a few months ago about people actually dying for their extreme selfies.

News has been circulating on social media about people putting a bison calf in their car. The story is true, and its sad conclusion highlights the importance of keeping a safe distance from park wildlife. Here’s the full account:

Last week, visitors were cited for placing a newborn bison calf in their vehicle and transporting it to a park facility because of their misplaced concern for the animal’s welfare. In terms of human safety, this was a dangerous activity because adult animals are very protective of their young and will act aggressively to defend them. In addition, interference by people can cause mothers to reject their offspring. In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd. These efforts failed. The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.

In a recent viral video, a visitor approached within an arm’s length of an adult bison in the Old Faithful area. Another video featured visitors posing for pictures with bison at extremely unsafe and illegal distances. Last year, five visitors were seriously injured when they approached bison too closely. Bison injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal.

Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury, and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules. — National Park Service

I’ve been a photographer for almost forty years. I get selfies. We used to call them self portraits and we made them all the time. It was part of the process of becoming a fine artist. Prior to the development of photography, painters painted self portraits. So, it’s not a new thing – the concept is hundreds of years old. And, it’s an understandable thing that is is becoming more commonplace – as we become a less wordy, more visual world, selfies are our new way of journal keeping.

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

That may be the case, but a selfie is not worth a life. Expectations and disruption are not worth your footprint on nature. Baby bison, and any baby critters, belong with their mothers, no matter how inclement the weather. Ignorance is not an excuse to disrupt nature. Had that baby bison been left in the wild it would not have been rejected by its herd. Educate yourself before you travel and remember to pack your common sense – especially when out in nature.

2 Replies to “Selfie Sticks, Unrealistic Expectations, Disruption, And A Baby Bison In A Car”

  1. Thanks to those trade deals that raised the standard of living around the world, more of the world is traveling now, so there’s that crush of humanity with more people crowding formerly quiet places and sometimes doing stupid things.

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