Hungry brown bears were feeding in an Alaska river before three men got in the water, officials said. They’ll spend time in prison for it.
The men were visiting Katmai National Park in August 2018 from New Mexico and another part of Alaska. Officials said the visitors left a designated viewing platform and went into the Brooks River, which is known for its bear activity.
One of the men was seen on a livestream taking selfies with a group of bears, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Monday, May 16.
“The three men created a hazardous condition as brown bears were feeding on the falls and in the Brooks River just below the falls,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a Sept. 23 news release. “As they waded into the Brooks River the three men came within 50 yards of the brown bears.”
The three were charged with “creating a hazardous condition in a closed area” and getting within 50 yards of brown bears, officials said in September.
The judge who sentenced the men called their actions “drunken capering, and a slap in the face to those who were there.”
Two of the men were sentenced to one week in prison and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine, the Attorney’s Office said. The third was sentenced to 10 days and prison and will pay the same fine.
The three men are banned from U.S. national parks for one year.
“These individuals behaved carelessly and put themselves at great risk. Brown bears are fierce, territorial predators, especially when concentrated in order to feed on migrating salmon,” Mark Sturm, superintendent of Katmai National Park and Preserve, said in a news release. “Things could have easily ended very badly.”
“The sheer number of bears, their movements, and behaviors influence most activities at Brooks Camp,” the National Park Service said. “A splashing fish sounds like food to a bear. Bears will often move in your direction to investigate a fish on a line.”
All tourists at Katmai National Park are required to stay at least 50 yards away from bears.