A moose drowned in a lake in Vermont this weekend—a death that authorities attribute to a bunch of people trying to take its photo.
The moose swam across Lake Champlain from New York to Vermont on Saturday, ending up near a bike path that a local characterized as “a very busy, busy area,” according to Burlington Free Press. The moose had completed its journey across the lake, but state fish and wildlife officer Robert Currier told the paper that it went back into the water, likely intimidated by a crowd of people watching it. The moose, exhausted, then drowned.
WCAX-TV reports that onlookers were crowding the moose and taking photos. “Best practice is to stay away from it,” Currier told the news station. “Keep your distance, don’t crowd the moose.”
“Sheriff Ray Allen reported that the moose made it’s way out of the water, exhausted,” the Islander, a local newspaper, wrote in a Facebook post. The newspaper posted a photo of the deceased moose on its Facebook page. The post was shared over a thousand times. “When it tried to rest, people crowded it and spooked him.”
It’s hardly uncommon for humans to endanger wildlife because they want to get that sweet shot. It’s an ignorant—or egomaniacal—practice that has killed harmless creatures before. Abusive wildlife ecotourism even prompted Instagram to roll out pop-up windows, warning users searching for certain animal hashtags that snapping a selfie with protected species can be harmful—and policy violating—behavior.
It’s a deeply frustrating behavior to witness, especially when such a tragic outcome is so easily preventable. Just give the animals some space, and resist your opportunist temptations to always do it for the ‘gram.