I’m actually surprised to learn that a tourist has been sentenced to four days in jail for being too close to grizzly bears in Yellowstone Park. I’m not gonna lie; I’m afraid of bears. My older brother Andrew took me to Yellowstone the summer before I began high school and we woke up one morning and saw bear tracks in our campsite. Later that day, at the ranger station, we learned that someone had been mauled to death by a grizzly that night in a different part of the park. I’ve always kind of felt like it could have been us.

Despite that scare, I loved the trip I took with Andrew. A couple of years ago, we took the whole family on a similar trip including a couple of days at Yellowstone. We saw a lot of wildlife, but thankfully no bears. We did some hikes in areas where encountering a grizzly was a very real possibility, and I was on constant alert and armed with bear spray. I had a weird sense that I was tempting fate by returning to the place where a bear had come so close to my tent.

We did get chased by a bison though. We raced back to the car and were lucky to make it, but we had been maintaining a respectful distance when it happened. The law says you must keep at least 100 yards away from wildlife, and the bison was initially on the other side of a stream and several hundred yards from the road. They move fast when they want to, however, and we learned that streams don’t slow them down a bit.

They say that the 100-yard barrier is for the benefit of the animals, and that’s true, but it’s also so the tourists don’t get mauled and trampled.

The woman in that video was almost impossibly stupid. I suppose sending her to jail will potentially save a life somewhere down the line. I guess that’s the point.

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