shirtless man chases wolf in Yellowstone
Getty Images, Derek Nielsen

Photos: Shirtless Man Chases Yellowstone Wolf for Unknown—But Certainly Misled—Reasons

The tourist is believed to be the same man who chased grizzly bears in Yellowstone shirtless earlier this year.

On Aug. 14, as photographer Derek Nielsen was trying to capture shots of a remarkable black wolf in Lamar Valley in northeastern Yellowstone, suddenly a shirtless white man filled his lens as well. More than being semi-nude, the guy was setting chase after the wolf, heading up into the hills after the wild animal.

Nielson posted the images to his Instagram account, which was later re-posted by TouronsOfYellowstone, and he said, "I spotted a gorgeous black wolf making his way up the valley. I also spotted this fool who decided to take his shirt off and chase the wolf up the hill. Don't be an idiot like this guy."

The shirtless tourist has yet to be identified, but is suspected of being the same culprit who was seen on three separate occasions taking off his shirt to run and yelling at grizzly bears in Yellowstone earlier this year.

While he seemed to be attempting to have a literal Running with Wolves moment, this is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

For starters, harassing wildlife in a national park is a crime and can be punished with jail time and a fine, as was the case with a woman who in 2021 got within 100 feet of a grizzly bear to take photos. She spent four days in jail and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and a $1,000 community service payment to a wildlife protection fund. She was also banned from the park for a year.

But additionally, the wolf-chasing incident falls into the never-ending story of easily avoidable human-megafauna interactions that we've heard about in the last couple of years. A video early this month went viral when it showed people pulled over to stand far too close to a feasting grizzly bear, including parents with children. At the end of May, a tourist attempted to pet a bison but instead was charged by the animal.

People getting too close to take a picture, trying to pet the animals or whatever this wolf-chasing man was attempting to do ultimately hurt the animals. Wild animals become desensitized to humans without actually losing their wildness, which means the chances of a negative—and dangerous—interaction increase the more people continue to not respect wild animals' space.

Another comment on the TouronsOfYellowstone post reads: "We have a few wolves in Oregon that are 'unwary' of humans. One just got hit by Crater Lake. People need to back off."

Commenters on the post and the photographer Nielsen himself have highlighted a desire for a ranger to have seen this in action. But with low employee numbers and huge amounts of ground to cover, park rangers can't catch everything.

If you recognize the man who was chasing the wolf, you can call Yellowstone's 24-hour anonymous tip line at 307-344-2132 or use the email form on the NPS website.

READ MORE: I've Been to 18 National Parks—These Are the Worst Mistakes I See Visitors Make Over and Over