A man caught taking a selfie with bears escaped without being attacked but he now faces charges, federal officials said.
An online bear camera that continuously broadcasts from Katmai National Park in Alaska captured the man entering a closed area and taking a selfie with multiple bears in the background.
The man and two companions “violated National Park Service wildlife viewing regulations, putting themselves and wildlife at risk,” the service said in a statement.
“People need to recognize that these are wild brown bears. These visitors are lucky that they escaped the situation without injury. The possible consequences for the bears and themselves could have been disastrous,” said Superintendent Mark Sturm.
Officials said the bears were concentrating on feeding, otherwise, they may have attacked the tourist.
— Bob Monek (@newyorkcommuter) August 18, 2018
Man Taking Selfie Caught on Camera
Video footage shows the middle-aged man, dressed in cargo shorts and a white t-shirt, wade into the water approximately 20 yards from the bears, take out his phone, snap pictures of the bears, then turn his back on the bears and snap a selfie.
Rules stipulate visitors to the national park must stay at least 50 yards away from bears who are using a concentrated food source, such as migrating salmon.
The National Park Service said the incident took place just before 7 p.m. on Aug. 9.
Because bears love the area where the selfie was snapped, which is below Brooks Falls, the area is closed off from June 15 through Aug. 15 to allow for undisturbed feeding.
While the area is closed off, elevated viewing platforms at nearby Brooks Camp enable visitors to watch the bears.
People watching the webcam, which is run by Explore.org, alerted federal officials to the incident. Rangers later made contact with the man and his two companions.
— Katmai National Park (@KatmaiNPS) August 10, 2018
Charges Pending for Trio
Peter Christian, a National Park Service spokesman, told KTVA that there appears to have been alcohol involved in the selfie incident.
“I know that alcohol is likely involved,” Christian said. “This is a ‘Here, hold my beer’ moment.”
Officials said charges are pending for the trio; possible charges include entering a closed area, reckless endangerment, and harassing wildlife, Christian said.
The last recorded fatality by bears in Katmai was back in 2003.
Timothy Treadwell, 46, and his camping companion Amie Huguenard, 37, were found mauled to death by aggressive bears; Treadwell had been the founder of Grizzly People, which sought to promote peaceful human-bear interaction.
The National Park Service said that prior to that attack, no fatal bear attacks in the park had occurred for at least 15 years.