Mother Nature: Treat wild animals and natural treasures respectfully

I’m not too sure I would like to stand in front of these creatures and pose for a selfie. If people feel the need to get a close-up picture of wild animals, please invest in a camera.

A woman is tossed around by a wild bison. A man falls to his death at Old Faithful. Men leaving the boardwalk at Yellowstone to pose for pictures next to Old Faithful. A couple taking a bison calf and putting it in their car, resulting in the calf being euthanized by park officials because it wasn’t accepted by the herd any more after the human contact. Animals taking drastic action, such as a mountain goat in Alaska leaping to its death to avoid humans closing in for photos.

A calf likely a bit younger than this one had to be euthanized because tourists felt sorry for it and put it in their vehicle. It couldn’t be assimilated back into its herd.

These are just a few of the stupid human acts that made international news over the past few months, most at America’s national parks. For some reason, people think they can get up close to wild animals in these places. Why? Because they think animals are trained and domesticated? Would you jump into a tiger pen at a zoo? Oh, wait that stuff has been done, too.

It’s common sense to leave these animals alone, right? When we visited Alaska eight years ago, we were shooting photographs of volcanoes. As soon as we heard there was a grizzly (brown) bear in the area, our group rushed back to the car and got inside. We knew better.

If you feel you have to stand next to a wild animal, such as a bear, pose next to a statue of one. It’s the next best thing and it won’t maul you.

Not one of us in our party thought it would be cute to walk toward a moose and her baby for a selfie or any other picture. Nor, did we think it would be cool to get within a few feet of a moose eating. In both instances, we used the vehicle as camouflage.

Moose are protective of their territory and their babies. I wouldn’t even think of trying to get much closer than the 100 feet or so we were from these two.

I am astounded how people choose to ignore the rules of the parks, as well as failing to use logic. Lisa and I were at Meramec Cavern in Missouri. It’s a cave where Jesse and Frank James hid out once. As we were started our tour, the guide told everyone not to touch any of the stalagmites, as humans have oils and dirt that can damage the sensitive structure of them, including killing the formation. Yet, a girl about five or six years old, ran her hand over a stalagmite we were standing inches away from. Instead of grabbing the kid’s hand or telling her not to do it, the mom ran her hand over it, too. Lisa and I looked at each other with resignation as to the ignorance people choose to have of the rules.

Leaving nature alone extends to rocks and other things, such as this stalagmite at Meramec Cavern in Missouri.

So, if you are visiting anywhere this holiday weekend – or at any time – please leave the animals alone, unless it is a designated petting area. Do not take off from the designated path and run off into restricted areas. Let’s treat Mother Nature and her children like we would like to be treated. Actually, let’s treat nature better than we would want to be treated.

Have fun and be safe out there.