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Dying for the perfect shot: Mishaps highlight tourists' blatant disregard for Yellowstone's unforgiving wilderness

As the summer season gets underway, tourists are flocking to Yellowstone National Park, known for its stunning natural beauty and thriving wildlife.

But recent accidents - and incidents of blatant disregard for park rules - have given the popular tourist sight a lot of negative attention.

For some, efforts to document vacation experiences - in the form of a selfie, potential viral video or otherwise - have proved destructive, dangerous and even deadly.

"In recent weeks, visitors in the park have been engaging in inappropriate, dangerous, and illegal behavior with wildlife," a Yellowstone National Park Press release, dated May 16, said.

"In a recent viral video, a visitor approached within an arm's length of an adult bison in the Old Faithful area," it said. "Another video featured visitors posing for pictures with bison at extremely unsafe and illegal distances."

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Bison injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal. In 2015 alone, five visitors were seriously injured when they approached too closely.

They are capable of sprinting three times faster than humans and are considered unpredictable.

The park service requires that visitors stay at least 25 yards from all wildlife and at least 100 yards from bears and wolves.

But despite the strictly enforced rules, some tourists can't seem to fight the urge to get up-close.

Earlier this week, a woman was struck and killed by a vehicle as she crossed a road trying to take a photograph of an eagle.

And park rangers say, this behavior is not unusual. Regularly, they have to direct people and traffic away from roaming wildlife.

The gawking crowds develop so regularly, locals have nicknamed the phenomenon a "bear jam."

Though wild animals are a major draw to tourists, the park's scenic natural features have been equally as problematic in recent weeks.

"Geothermal attractions are one of the most dangerous natural features in Yellowstone, but I don't sense that awareness in either visitors or employees," Hank Heasler, the park's principle geologist, said.

Since late May, officials have been attempting to contact or locate several Canadian men who were seen taking photographs on the delicate Grand Prismatic Spring.

The group later posted selfies and video of the illegal actions to social media.

On June 7, it was reported that a man in his early 20s wandered off the boardwalk and fell into the hot spring at the Norris Geyser basin, an area which can reach over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Identified as Colin Nathaniel Scott, 23, of Portland, Oregon, park officials declared the man dead on Thursday and suspended efforts to locate his body.

"They were able to recover a few personal effects," park spokeswoman Charissa Reid told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "There were no remains left to recover."

This death marks the second known thermal-related incident to occur in the park during the 2016 summer season.

On June 6, a father and son sustained burns in the Upper Geyser Basin after straying from the designated trail.

To minimize the risk of incidents, park rangers implore visitors to follow park rules, including never approaching or chasing animals in order to take their picture, staying on boardwalks in thermal areas, staying in your car if stuck in a wildlife jam and following best practices when traveling in bear country.

"There are many risks in Yellowstone," Brandon Gauthier, the park's chief safety officer said. "It's something you've got to respect and pay attention to."


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Jillian MacMath at macmathj@accuweather.com or follow her on Twitter @Jillian_MacMath. Follow AccuWeather @breakingweather, or on Facebook.