Tourists in Yellowstone National Park got a little too close to the wildlife this week, and one mother just couldn’t bear it.
A watchful black bear sow sent the curious onlookers running after they crowded her three cubs in a section of the park in Montana. “Keep going! Go! Go!” Yellowstone Park Ranger John Kerr is heard yelling as the tourists scatter in a video.
“These tourists were absolutely in danger,” Bob Gibson, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Communication & Education Program Manager, told NBC News. “Black bears are usually shy of people. But you put them with their cubs and they get really protective. You never want to be between a bear and its cub.”
The cubs in the video are about 13 months old. A black bear cub spends the first year or so of its life learning survival skills from its mother before going off on its own. The mother becomes less protective as the cubs get closer to leaving her den.
According to Gibson, this encounter could have been deadly. “Had they been the young of the year and 10 days old, the mom would have been all over the tourists.”
Gibson advises visitors to Yellowstone to stay as far away from the bears as possible, especially in the spring when cubs are born and in the fall when the bears are getting ready to hibernate and are more protective of their food sources.