Imagine you're hiking through the woods when suddenly you notice a bear several yards away. How would you respond?

  1. Back away slowly.
  2. Get out your camera, approach the bear and then turn your back on it to snap a selfie.
If you answered "A," your odds of being attacked by a bear are substantially smaller. If you answered "B," the U.S. Forest Service has a message for you: Don't do that!

Yes, it seems some people need to be told that taking selfies with bears is a bad idea.

Wildlife officials at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center in South Lake Tahoe, California, recently issued a statement that interaction with bears in the area "has reached an unsafe level."

"Bears are unpredictable, wild animals and may attack if threatened," said forest supervisor Nancy Gibson. "We can't have visitors creating dangerous situations for themselves and others. People are risking serious injury or death if they get too close to a bear."

At this time of year, an annual run of kokanee salmon salmon attracts hungry bears to the area, and the bears attract selfie-snapping people.

"We've had mobs of people that are actually rushing toward the bears trying to get a 'selfie' photo," Lisa Herron, spokeswoman for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, told USA Today.

The problem has gotten so bad that officials are threatening to close down the visitor center.

Approaching bears doesn't only put people at risk, but also the bears, which will likely be captured and killed if they attack.

Although bear attacks are rare, getting too close to the animals increases the likelihood of the bear acting aggressively.

Herron said there's been one recent report of one bear charging a group of people, but there were no injuries.

"Black bears seem big and lumbering, but they're very, very fast," she said.

In addition to snapping selfies for social media, Herron said people are also stopping their cars along roads to see bears, as well as darting across highways and charging off trails to get a closer look at them.

If you encounter a bear, think of your safety before a selfie and follow these guidelines to ensure both you and the animal remain unharmed.

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Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Natural selection at work? 'Bear selfie' takers tempt fate
After observing countless people getting close to wild bears to snap photos, the U.S. Forest Service is asking visitors to stop with the bear selfies.