Why Do People Behave So Stupidly Around Wild Animals?

Alaska, National Parks, Wildlife Photography

Avoid horny, 800-pound girls. This is one personal rule that has always served me well in life. Evidently, some people don’t think like I do.

I was out in Denali National Park the other day, when I came across this amorous moose couple. It is rutting season and the bulls have migrated to the valley to get some moose sex. Love, or at least lust, is in the air. It is like a college bar at last call. Everyone is trying to get some.



The girl in the above photos was way too close. Moose are surprisingly large, unpredictable and truculent. I am way smarter than she is. I was using a zoom lens and I stood behind my car door like a cop popping off rounds at a perp.


Suddenly, the female moose went berserk and started running around and making horrible noises. She was acting the way I do when I lose my internet connection. The two moose ran across the road between the cars. I was hoping to see the photographer girl trampled, but alas, she was okay.

20130902-IMG_5941 20130902-IMG_5943

Why do people behave so stupidly around wild animals?

The story above got me thinking… Why are people so stupid around wild animals? I don’t know about you, but my flight instinct kicks in when I see a huge animal coming towards me.  Has television and zoos made us think that animals are more docile than they are? Do people think that a point-and-shoot camera is a force shield?

This is a question I ask myself from time to time. You see, I live in a national park and I often see people approaching moose or getting too close to bears. Sometimes it is difficult to tell which is the the superior, more intelligent being: the wild animal grazing on some grass or the two-legged beast who is approaching a grazing animal, making images with a gadget.

Let’s take a look at some situations I’ve capture on camera and analyze the stupidity of the people.

Old Lady and the Grizzly Bear


I came upon this lady a few years ago. I can’t necessarily fault her for getting out of her car to take a photo, but as the bear approaches, she has one option in my book. Let’s see what she chooses.

Options For Lady

A. Get in the Car

B. All of the Above

C. Leave the door open, run around to the other side of the car while still taking photos.

She choose C.

IMG_0083 IMG_0084 IMG_0085

I remember shouting to myself at the time. NO! What are you doing! Get in the car!

By the looks of this lady, I am sure she was wearing some stinky old-lady perfume and likely had some smelly food item in the car. She is so lucky the bear didn’t crawl inside the car to investigate. Furthermore, she is lucky the bear was not a car thief. He could have easily car-jacked her in this situation.

Avoid Hungry Bears and Horny Moose

Here is another example of a time when I saw people being stupid.

I came upon the scene of a bull moose hanging out with his two sister-wives.


A large crowd of people had gathered on the edge of the road. Suddenly, the three moose tore off running in different directions. Initially, I thought another bull was trying to take over the harem, but I quickly I realized a grizzly bear was going in for an attack. He blazed past the moose and up and over the road in seconds. Like the moose, the people ran off in different directions. I was really hoping to see the bear eat someone, especially if they were a guest at the hotel where I work (we were oversold that night and needed a room).

Thoughts: If I am a bear and looking for a meal, do I want to take down a 1200 pound moose with razor sharp hooves at the end of long, powerful legs perfect for kicking in my bear-teeth, or do I want something soft, round and pink (that has nearly as much meat on it) standing dumbly by the roadway? If I am a bear (and I am not, for the record), I go for the human.


Seconds before I took this photo, people were all over the roadway taking pictures.

Don’t Feed the Animals

Deer Bread2-1

Why do people feed animals? When I was back home for the holidays last year, I saw people feeding deer and prairie dogs at a couple of different places, and I even scolded people for feeding animals. For the above deer, some people just tossed out bread and then drove off. They didn’t even get the satisfaction of observing the deer.

Are we that stupid as a society? Do people not realize the harm they do when they feed wild animals? And who has time to just drive around and feed deer and then drive off?

Should you really be posing by an alligator?

These photos don’t need a lot of explanation. In the Everglades, many tourists do not have a healthy respect for 15-foot long reptiles with jagged teeth that can bite through your leg as if it were butter.

Seriously lady? He make look chill, but he didn't survive 60 million years without being able to fight.

Seriously lady? He make look chill, but his didn’t survive 60 million years without being able to fight.

Alligator at Everglades with Tourists

Get closer son!

Get closer son!

World War B

The animal I fear the most on this planet is the bison. I know that sounds strange, but in the late 1890’s the population of American Bison had been reduced from tens of millions to 750. I know that some day the bison are going to rise up and attack the human race and it won’t be pretty.

As a result, the last animal I’d ever approach in the wild is a bison. Evidently, some people don’t share my beliefs. This family in the photo below approached way too close to a bison. Bison may look docile, but they weigh over 2000 pounds, can jump six feet in the air and run 35 miles per hour. Those are some mad athletic skills. Respect.

Seriously, get closer to the bison.

Just out of the frame to the right is a bison. In fact, it is the bison in the photo below.

Last time I was in the refuge, I nearly got trampled by one of these. That is a story for another time.


There you have my partial collection of people behaving stupidly around animals. Hopefully next time I’ll have something more dramatic, like a person being impaled by a bison or a grizzly bear eating a tourist.


What is the stupidest thing you’ve seen a person do around a wild animal?

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Currently living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~ planetbell1@gmail.com

9 thoughts on “Why Do People Behave So Stupidly Around Wild Animals?”

  1. I think you’ve got it all wrong. It’s completely the fault of the wildlife. The animals look so good it’s just too tempting to get closer:)

    The best story I heard from our last trip to the Grand Tetons was one of the locals complaining about a tourist that tried to put his child on top of a bison for a photo. You know they’re really docile old cows!

  2. Pingback: “It is all mossy and moosey. ” – Henry David Thoreau | John Roberts Photography (and other stuff)

  3. We have the exact same situation here with the alligators. The tourists, many of whom are on vacation, must think they are like Disney cartoon gators, and are always just about ready to break into a song and dance routine.
    These people deserve to be dragged off by the alligator but of course that would mean destruction of the animal because it is too aggressive.

    • There was a guy in Denali last year who was eaten by a bear. He was actually the first death in the 100 year of the history of the park. His memory card showed him taking pictures closer and closer to the animal.

      That is what they make zoom lenses for.

  4. Coming from a country absent of even snakes I can completely see the appeal but I would still be so terrified to do half the things the people above did!

    • Where do you live that has no snakes? I checked out your blog and I am intrigued by the Middle Eastern destinations on your wish list. That should be interesting.

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