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The Hazards Of A Wildlife Selfie

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Do's and dont's when it comes to today's high-tech self-portrait - you know, the selfie. Do - take pictures of yourself with friends in the great outdoors.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Don't - assume that bears are your friends.

LISA HERON: It's not something that we should have to tell people - that bears are wild unpredictable animals.

CORNISH: You may have heard the U.S. Forest Service is warning visitors at South Lake Tahoe to cut it out with all the bears selfies. The Forest Service's Lisa Heron says she has personally intervened.

HERON: Folks thought it was a good idea to take their picture with a bear. And, you know, I was able to talk to them briefly and just tell them, you know, it's not a good idea. And we, you know, we are telling you you need to keep your distance from the bears.

CORNISH: No one's been hurt yet.

SIEGEL: But Grayson Schaffer of Outside magazine knows about bear selfies.

GRAYSON SCHAFFER: You know, I just did one of those. You know, I'm an offender myself.

SIEGEL: Just a couple of weeks ago, Schaffer snapped a selfie right in front of a grizzly. It was a rescue bear controlled by a handler. Schaffer's magazine has covered myriad dangers of selfies in the outdoors. Take this year's Tour de France.

SCHAFFER: Cyclists were actually running over people who were stepping out into the road and turning their backs on the cyclists and trying to shoot themselves with the cyclist as they rode by.

CORNISH: And we know selfie accidents can be really serious - in some cases fatal - behind the wheel of a car, for instance. So what's going on here? Schaffer says new camera technology, whether cell phone or body cam, is...

SCHAFFER: Pushing people to go bigger, ride faster, hit bigger jumps. You know, people don't really know whether they had a good time doing something until they get home and look at the photos or post them on Facebook and get some kind of recognition from their friends. You know, I think that that's part of it as well.

CORNISH: In short, Grayson Schaffer says selfies are in themselves a new form of competition.

SCHAFFER: People really want to show that they're having the most fun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.