What would you do if you ever came upon three bears, other than steal their porridge? There are plenty of guidelines on what to do when confronted with a wild animal. However, the Aspen Police Department gave had to remind people one very simple point: Don't. Take. Selfies.
There's a reason why the local force took it upon themselves to remind their community of something so logical, reported King5.
Recently, the bears of Aspen have been repeatedly photographed by both locals and tourists. On Wednesday – 13 September – a mommy bear and her two cubs climbed a tree to escape these disturbances. They had ventured into town, by the local mall, and quickly became unwitting celebrities.
The force described the animals as feeling like:"Mariah Carey in Aspen on New Year's Eve," in an appeal on Facebook. They dubbed the passers-by paparazzi and ask them to stop taking pictures of the animals, saying the bears were on a "selfie strike."
However, later that day, the bears came down from the tree, and were welcomed by a huge crowd of onlookers.
Sgt. Rob Fabrocini was at the scene and witnessed crowds trying to "get close enough to take selfies".
Among other things, he was particularly shocked to see a mother trying to pose with the animals while carrying her child.
"Every couple minutes I'd turn around and like I said there was a woman holding a child within five feet of the bear trying to take a selfie with her back to the bear."
Things got worse when the bears tried to escape the crowd but got separated in the process. The mother "returned to the mall clearly agitated and crying out looking for her cubs and people were still approaching her, getting within five or six feet of her", Fabrocini said.
Police tried to disperse the crowd: "It was one of those situations where we were really concerned that someone would get mauled."
Once the incident was over, police took to Facebook and tried to use the event as a teaching moment: "If you just ate a big dinner in town and were out for a leisurely tree climb only to find a group of bears suddenly surrounding the tree below you, would YOU want to climb down?? Didn't think so."
"Hopefully, over time it starts to get into peoples' minds that human beings aren't the best thing for these animals," Kent Drotar of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg told King 5.
On Sunday 10 September, another bear and two cubs were filmed coming from a tree, also in Aspen.