Is It Possible to Protect Wild Spaces from Instagram?


The question ought to be expanded to include: is it possible to protect ourselves from ourselves because of Instagram. Three people died in Grand Canyon National Park, or outside of the Park boundaries but within the Grand Canyon area, over the past nine days. One tripped and fell 1,000 feet while taking a photo. One fell 400 feet, but the cause has not yet been determined. One got lost while hiking.

Excerpt from this Outside Onlinearticle:

For years, our conversations around Instagram’s impact on the outdoors have generally hit the same few beats: we’ve mocked the wannabe influencers who got too close to moose, complained that our favorite spaces were being loved to death, and wrung our hands over crowded, trash-strewn trailheads. But now land managers throughout the U.S. are taking bold steps to reshape the conversation. And they’re doing it through geotag campaigns, new and improved signage, and updated infrastructure. 

Even if we’re not geotagging our favorite spots, we’re likely photographing some of the wildlife for which our national parks are known, like wild horses at Assateague Island National Seashore. And ever more powerful phones give us the courage to inch closer and closer to those animals—sometimes too close.

As more visitors head outdoors, they’re not always careful to follow best practices. Take the iconic bison of Yellowstone National Park. A recent study in the medical journal One Health found that visitors were approaching the animals with alarming frequency, and that roughly half of all bison-related injuries between 2000 and 2015 involved photography, up from 29 percent between 1980 and 1999. “The popularity of sharing selfies on social media might explain why wildlife are approached more closely than when traditional camera technology was used,” the study says, while also referencing incidents in which visitors tried to take selfies with elk, raccoons, bears, and—incredibly—rattlesnakes.

Is It Possible to Protect Wild Spaces from Instagram?