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White Grizzly Bear and Other Rare Animals Attract ‘Wildlife Paparazzi’

It’s not just famous humans who struggle with paparazzi. Rare wild animals also gain a following of photographers and enthusiasts who all want a prized photo for their feeds. A rare, white-phased grizzly bear who roams the Canadian Rockies is a prime example.

Photographer Lee Horbachewski called the bear, Nakoda, the “most sought out bear in the Canadian Rockies.” In a Facebook post, Horbachewski also noted that this fact “puts [Nakoda] hugely at risk.”

Nakoda and other rare animals like her are beautiful in their uniqueness and prized for it. Like other famous animals, Nakoda tends to draw crowds when someone spots her. For this reason, some photographers and organizations choose not to disclose location when they share photos or videos of her.

Here is some of Horbachewski’s footage of Nakoda, the rare white grizzly:

Can Parks Protect Against Wildlife Paparazzi?

A recent article in Rocky Mountain Outlook took a look at the effect “wildlife paparazzi” might have on grizzly bears like Nakoda in Canada’s Banff National Park. It advocates for protection for these animals, who just want to live their lives.

Cathy Ellis writes that in March, visitors and photographers “hounded” two internet-famous bears called The Boss and Split Lip for weeks after they woke up from winter sleep. Parks Canada tried to protect the bears by implementing a no-stopping zone along the Bow Valley Parkway. Other Canadian parks, such as Jasper National Park, require visitors to stay inside their vehicles while observing wildlife along the road.

When wild animals become accustomed to human presence, they can become dangerous. In some cases, these animals no longer see humans as a threat, so they’re more likely to approach them. Or, wild animals that have been fed by humans in the past may start relying on humans for food.

Noise and other effects of crowding by wildlife paparazzi can also negatively impact wild animals’ ability to do wild-animal things, like hunt, hide from predators, and find a mate.

UPDATE 6/12/24: Nakoda (the white grizzly bear) and her two cubs have died after two separate collisions with moving vehicles on the Trans-Canada Highway.

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