Black Bear Management Trends

Yosemite warns: “Improper food storage may result in impoundment of your food or car,
a fine of up to $5,000, and/or revocation of your camping permit.

 
 

bear walking along fallen tree

The Yosemite National Park rangers would like you to call them if you see a bear in Yosemite,

no matter where it is or what it is doing,

at 1 (209) 372-0322.

If you can, in all the excitement, try to notice if the bear has a tag (usually on the ear), the color of the tag and if possible, the number on it (the tag is large enough that with a telephoto you should be able to read the number).

bear with ear tag

NPS bear tracks: bearlogo: from the Keep Bears Wild program NPS bear tracks:

From the Yosemite Daily Report, 2020:
It is extremely important to remember to yell at bears that are in and around development, even if they are foraging on natural food. Though it is very tempting to get close for a picture, or just to watch these incredible animals, it is important not to give into this urge. Yelling at them if they are in residential areas or near people is critical to keep bears natural fear of humans. Giving bears plenty of space. When bears become too comfortable around people, they will often start causing damage to structures and vehicles, or will even become too bold around people, creating safety concerns.

 
 

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http://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/nature/upload/bearstudy-bears-reduce.pdf

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Preservation of a Healthy Black Bear Population in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range through Interagency Cooperation , at the Yosemite Association nature notes page, has this intro:

“Keeping one step ahead of bears intent on getting your food is a job now being carried out cooperatively by several Sierra land management agencies. Their goal is to get bears out foraging for roots and grubs, rather than your backpack or ice chest. The guiding principle of the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group is to never underestimate an animal you can teach to ride a bicycle…”

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At bears you will find:

links to general info about bears,

then practicalities of camping and backpacking around bears, (Food Storage , what to do if you see a bear, how bears get into cars, info for backpackers) and lots of stories about bears getting into cars, tents, camps, etc., mostly geared towards De Anza College Outdoor Club trips around bears in California (especially Yosemite National Park) and Grand Teton National Park.

And the answer to the question:
Why don’t the rangers just move the problem bears?

and the question:

How can I keep a bear out of my campsite? (You can’t, but you can (almost always, see notes below and at bears) keep it out of your food.)


 

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From the Yosemite Daily Report
Yosemite Bear Facts November 21, 2020

2020 Total Bear Incidents: 36

2020 Total Property Damage: $ 4,651

Compared to 2019 (the lowest year on record for number of bear incidents), bear incidents are up by 63.6% and property damage is up by 253.6%.
Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents are down by 97.7%, and property damage is down by 99.3%.

Bear Activity Summary: Bear activity has significantly slowed down in recent weeks in Yosemite Valley, with most bear activity currently happening in El Portal, the park’s administrative area. Bears are still focusing their large fall appetite on the acorns that are prevalent this time of year. Recent bear incidents have involved bears ripping into roofs and sidings of structures to get at stashed acorns from woodpeckers and other animals.

It is extremely important to remember to yell at bears that are in and around development, even if they are foraging on natural food. Though it is very tempting to get close for a picture, or just to watch these incredible animals, it is important not to give into this urge. Yelling at them if they are in residential areas or near people is critical to keep bears natural fear of humans. Giving bears plenty of space. When bears become too comfortable around people, they will often start causing damage to structures and vehicles, or will even become too bold around people, creating safety concerns.

Red Bear, Dead Bear: Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways. At least seventeen bears have been hit by vehicles this year in Yosemite, and at least five of those died.

Fascinating Bear Facts: Sows give birth to their cubs in their dens in the winter. The number of cubs they have is dependent on how much weight they have put on over the summer and fall. Though one or two cubs is typical, a particularly fat sow may have three or more cubs!

For more information visit KeepBearsWild.org

Please report bear incidents and sightings: Call the Save-A-Bear Hotline at 1 209-372-0322 or e-mail yose_bear_mgmt@nps.gov.

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From the Yosemite Daily Report

Yosemite Bear Facts October 11-17, 2020

2020 Total Bear Incidents: 29

2020 Total Property Damage: $4,198

Compared to 2019 (the lowest year on record for number of bear incidents), bear incidents are up by 31.8% and property damage is up by 219.2%. Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents are down by 98.0%, and property damage is down by 99.3%.

Bear Activity Summary: Bears have been busy in Yosemite Valley, mostly eating acorns from the black oaks which seem to be producing a lot of food for all kinds of park wildlife. Four bear incidents occurred in the park this week, all in Yosemite Valley. One bear got food from picnickers at Cathedral Beach Picnic Area and also from people at Swan Slab climbing area. There were also two incidents in park housing this week. One incident involved a bear ripping siding off of a house going after a wasp nest, and another involved a bear damaging a camper shell on a truck in an attempt to get in for an attractant.

There are many bears in Yosemite Valley right now, so please remember to store your food properly and to report bear sightings and incidents. If you see a bear in the park please give the bear plenty of space—at least 50 yards—more if the bear is reacting to your presence. Bears drawn into the Valley for plentiful natural foods (like acorns) can easily become habituated to human presence leading to problems later in the bear’s lifetime. With Halloween approaching, remember that pumpkins are food! Do not leave them out in the park or other areas with bears.

Red Bear, Dead Bear: Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways. At least fourteen bears have been hit by vehicles this year in Yosemite, and at least five of those died.

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From the Yosemite Daily Report

Yosemite Bear Facts — August 16-22, 2020

2020 Total Bear Incidents: 17
2020 Total Property Damage: $ 2,778

Compared to 2019 (the lowest year on record for number of bear incidents), bear incidents are down by 5.6% and property damage is up by 127.7%. Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents are down by 98.5%, and property damage is down by 99.4%.

Bear Activity Summary: Bears incidents slowed this week, with only one incident occurring in the wilderness at Snow Creek. There were three bear incidents the previous week including a bear ripping shingles from the side of a house in order to get at a wasp nest, a bear eating sandwiches that were left unattended near the Ahwahnee Hotel, and a bear that got into a backpack along the Panorama Trail while the owners were too far away. Remember that proper food storage in Yosemite includes being within arms’s reach when your food is not otherwise stored legally (this generally means in a bear-resistant food storage locker or container, or in a closed up vehicle if it’s daytime).

Food sources are transitioning, and so are bears. Many bears headed to higher elevations in recent weeks in search of food now that the Valley’s mid-summer abundance of fruit has come to a seasonal end. As autumn nears, bears will increase the amount of food they eat each day in preparation for hibernation. This additional natural drive to eat can make them particularly sneaky or bold at getting food from people this time of year.

Red Bear, Dead Bear: Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways. At least ten bears have been hit by vehicles this year in Yosemite, and at least four of those died.

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Yosemite Bear Facts—July 26 to August 1, 2020

2020 Total Bear Incidents: 12

2020 Total Property Damage: $ 2,155

Compared to 2019 (the lowest year on record for number of bear incidents), bear incidents this year are down by 7.7% and property damage is up by 114.5%.
Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents this year are down by 96.9%, and property damage is down by 98.8%.

Bear Activity Summary: Bears continue to be very active in Yosemite this week. As some early summer food sources dry up (raspberries, grasses) others become available (manzanita berries, acorns). With this change in food, bears tend to spend some time moving around searching for the next thing to eat. It is often during these times when bears get a little more curious or bold about human food and can get into trouble.

This week a bear got a substantial amount of food from visitors at Swinging Bridge picnic area. People were present but they were not able to keep the bear out of their food. Rangers arrived and were able to scare the bear away. The following day the same bear damaged an unoccupied tent in a campground. Later in the week another bear tore into a bike trailer that had food stored inside. Additionally bears have been seen near residences on multiple occasions this week. Visitors and residents alike need to remember to store food properly, and yell and make noise when they see a bear near a developed area.

Red Bear, Dead Bear: Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways. This week a bear cub was hit and killed on the Wawona Road, and a yearling was hit and killed along the Tioga Road. At least five bears have been hit by vehicles this year, with three of those bears dying on scene.

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From the Yosemite Daily Report

Yosemite Bear Facts—July 12 to July 25, 2020
2020 Total Bear Incidents: 7
2020 Total Property Damage: $ 1,360

Compared to 2019 (the lowest year on record for number of bear incidents), bear incidents this year are down by 41.7% and property damage is up by 36.7%.

Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents this year are down by 98.2%, and property damage is down by 99.2%.

Bear Activity Summary: Bears have been active across the park in recent weeks. Though the majority of Yosemite’s bear incidents have occurred in Wilderness areas this year, much of the recent bear activity and sightings have been concentrated in Yosemite Valley where the ripe berries have drawn bears down to a plentiful food source. Other recent hot spots include Tuolumne Meadows and Snow Creek. At Snow Creek, a bear approached a campsite and destroying a tent and sleeping bag while people were present. Another bear is testing food storage containers to see if they are latched properly by knocking them over in the night. A bear obtained food this way at Sunrise Creek as well. This week bear got food along the John Muir Trail from a backpack that people abandoned when they saw the bear approach. This bear was also reportedly fed by people on the trail. Because of these people’s actions, this bear could alter its natural behaviors to avoid people become a threat to human safety. Please NEVER approach or feed any wildlife in the park, keep your food and backpacks with you when you see a bear, and yell loudly to scare it away.

Red Bear, Dead Bear: Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways.

Documented bears hit by vehicles in 2020 — 3 (all in July)

Documented bears killed by vehicles in 2020 — 1

Please report bear incidents and sightings: Call the Save-A-Bear Hotline at 209-372-0322 or e-mail yose_bear_mgmt@nps.gov.

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From the Yosemite Daily Report

Yosemite Bear Facts—August 25 to August 31, 2019
2019 Total Bear Incidents: 16
2019 Total Property Damage: $ 1180

Compared to this same week in 2018 (the lowest year on record for bear incidents), bear incidents this year are up by 45.5% and damage amounts (in dollars) are up by 31.5%.

Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents in 2019 are down by 98.7%, and damages are down by 99.7%.

Bear Activity Summary: As days become shorter and temperatures cool off, bears enter a period of hyperphagia when it becomes critical to find and consume as many calories as possible before winter’s food shortages. Natural food sources including late berries and acorns are abundant across Yosemite, however the stress of food scarcity can cause bears to become bolder and more curious. It is imperative to follow food storage regulations day and night and to report bear sightings or damage quickly.

Five incidents have occurred over the past few weeks including: a sow and cub obtaining food from an occupied campsite in Yosemite Valley, hikers throwing their lunch at a bear at the top of Nevada Fall, a bear knocking over bear resistant food containers at Snow Creek, and a bear obtaining horse pellets from Bridalveil Creek campground.

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From the Yosemite Daily Report

Yosemite Bear Facts July 21-27, 2019

2019 Total Bear Incidents: 11

2019 Total Property Damage: $ 820

Compared to this same week 2018 (the lowest year on record for bear incidents), bear incidents in 2019 are down by 11% and damage amounts (in dollars) are almost equal. Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents in 2019 are down by 97.4%, and damages are down by 99.5%.

Bear Activity Summary: July brings an abundance of berries, apples and bear activity. The wilderness has hosted most of the incidents this summer thus far. When camping in bear country, respect campsite closures and consider stacking pots and pans on your bear resistant food container(s) so that it will make noise to scare a bear away and alert you if a bear is investigating your supplies. Bear activity remains high in Yosemite Valley. Bears are foraging on raspberries, cherries and apples often near campgrounds and popular trails. Both Tuolumne Meadows and Bridalveil Creek campgrounds have had bears obtain food from the campground during the day with visitors present. It is critical to keep food within arm’s reach at all times, maintain 50 yards distance from bears, and yell to scare bears that are in developed areas or approaching people.

Red Bear, Dead Bear: Five bear have been hit by vehicles this year. Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways. A map of bear-hit-by-vehicle hotspots, along with other Yosemite Bear Information an be viewed at www.KeepBearsWild.org.

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From the Yosemite Daily Report

Yosemite Bear Facts For June 2-16 2019

2019 Total Bear Incidents: 3

2019 Total Property Damage: $ 190

Compared to this same week in 2018 (the lowest year on record for bear incidents), bear incidents in 2019 are the same as last year, and damage amounts (in dollars) are down by 57%.

Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents in 2019 are down by 99%, and damages are down by 99.9%.

Bear Activity Summary: The beginning of June marked the first bear incidents in Yosemite including a bear attaining food from illegal food hangs at Lake Vernon, and a bear investigating canisters and attaining food at Snow Creek. When out hiking, picnicking, or camping in bear country, it is important to keep food within arm’s reach or to store food properly in a sealed or latched bear resistant food container/locker. Hanging food in Yosemite is illegal. There are multiple active bears in Yosemite Valley in and near development. Always stay at least 50 yards away from bears, avoid surrounding or blocking the animal from having an escape route, and maintain vigilance on reporting bears and practicing good food storage in the campgrounds, workplace and residential areas.

Red Bear, Dead Bear: A bear was hit by a vehicle on the Big Oak Flat Road near Foresta. Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways. A map of bear-hit-by-vehicle hot spots, along with other Yosemite Bear Information can be viewed at http://www.KeepBearsWild.org.

Fascinating Bear Fact: Although mountain lions are considered apex predators, black bears will often push mountain lions off their kills, exhibiting sub-dominant behavior to bears.

Please report bear incidents and sightings: Call the Save-A-Bear Hotline at 209-372-0322 or e-mail yose_bear_mgmt@nps.gov.

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From the Yosemite Daily Report

Yosemite Bear Facts November 4th – November 17th, 2018

2018 Total Bear Incidents: 20

2018 Total Property Damage: $1,875

Compared to this same week 2017 (the lowest year on record), bear incidents in 2018 are down by 43% and damage amounts (in dollars) are down by 64%. Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents and damages in 2018 are down by 99%.

Bear Activity Summary: Bears are being seen daily in Yosemite Valley. Bears have been entering the campgrounds on a nightly basis. Over Veterans Day weekend, bears obtained food garbage on three separate occasions from campsites. Due to the large mast of acorns this fall along with a lack of precipitation, bears are expected to be active well into December (if not later).

Red Bear, Dead Bear: So far this year, 16 bears have been hit by vehicles along park roads. Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals on roads.

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From the Yosemite Daily Report

Yosemite Bear Facts – August 26 to September 1, 2018

2017 Total Bear Incidents: 9

2017 Total Property Damage: $622

Compared to this same week 2017 (the lowest year on record for bear incidents), bear incidents in 2018 are down by 71% and damage amounts (in dollars) are down by 86.9%. Compared to 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents in 2018 are down by 99.3%, and damages are down by 99.9%.

Bear Activity Summary: There have been no bear incidents in the past two weeks. The most recent bear incident involved food that was left in backpacks in the back of a pickup truck in Yosemite Valley during the day. A sow with two cubs got the food from the vehicle. This was the first human food that these cubs obtained in their life and this incident is a perfect example of why proper food storage (both day and night) is so important. Once bears learn to associate human areas, vehicles, or people with food, they tend to continue searching those areas for food. Bears can quickly become food conditioned and/or habituated to human presence. When this happens bears can become bold, or even aggressive in their search for food. Cubs that are in contact with human food, or that become used to being around people often continue this behavior throughout their lifetime.

Bear activity in the past two weeks has shifted away form Yosemite Valley, and into higher and lower elevations. As fruit and other summer foods dwindle in the Valley, bears head to other areas to find new food sources. Often this is the time of year that bear activity picks up in El Portal, and other areas outside the Valley. Though many bears have left the Valley, some do still remain. Proper food storage throughout the park is crucial at this time of year when bears are starting to eat more to build fat stores for hibernation.

Red Bear, Dead Bear: So far this year, nine bears have been hit by vehicles along park roads. Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways.

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From the Yosemite Daily Report

Yosemite Bear Facts June 17 To June 30, 2018

2017 Total Bear Incidents: 3

2017 Total Property Damage: $450

Compared to this week in 2017 (the lowest year on record for bear incidents), bear incidents in 2018 are down by 63% and damage amounts (in dollars) are down by 39%.

Compared to this week in 1998 (when incidents in the park peaked), bear incidents in 2018 are down by 99%, and damages are down by 99.7%.

Bear Activity Summary: The beginning of June marked the first bear incidents in Yosemite including a bear damaging an unoccupied tent at the Crane Flat Campground, an unattended pack in Yosemite Valley and another pack at Lake Vernon. These incidents occurred because food or attractants (items that smell including in opened or unopened packaging) were left unattended.

Even with fewer bear incidents than usual, bear activity is still relatively high throughout the park. Bears have been reported in all major areas of the park, and much of the wilderness. When out hiking or camping in bear country, it is important to always keep food within arm’s reach or to store food properly in a sealed bear resistant canister or food storage locker.

Red Bear, Dead Bear: A bear was hit by a vehicle on the Glacier Point Road. Please help protect wildlife by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways. A map of bear-hit-by-vehicle hotspots, along with other Yosemite Bear Information can be viewed at: http://keepbearswild.org/

Fascinating Bear Fact: Bears shed calluses on the soles of their feet when they hibernate, so when they first emerge from their den, a bear’s paws are very sensitive.

Please report bear incidents and sightings. Call the Save-A-Bear Hotline at 209-372-0322 or e-mail yose_bear_mgmt@nps.gov.

row of rocks carved into brick shapes

2009 Bear Management Tally: Yosemite’s Interdivisional Bear Team accomplished: 210 night patrols; 38,573 vehicle inspections; and 4,607 campsite inspections. The staff of 18 (employees/interns/volunteers) mitigated 7,862 food storage violations; wrote 1,954 food storage warnings and gave 1,065 verbal warnings; and impounded food 54 times. They set 239 bear traps; captured 21 individual bears; radio collared 12 bears; and received 25 reports of bears hit by vehicles (5 confirmed deaths). Bear activity peaked in August, with 124 incidents. In more than 535 total incidents, financial damage amounted to more than $80,000, ­half to cars in parking lots.

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From: http://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/nature/upload/bearstudy-bears-reduce-2.pdf

“A total of 9,333 human-bear incidents was recorded in Yosemite National Park between 1989 and 2002. An average of 667 incidents occurred during each of the 14 years, with a maximum of 1,584 in 1998 and a minimum of 230 in 2001. ”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle: At times in the 1990s, 10 to 15 cars would be ransacked in a night. In 2000, bears broke into more than 300 cars, smashing windows, clawing doors open and ransacking the interiors.

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From 2001 to 2007 bears broke into 908 vehicles at the following rates: minivan (26.0%), sport–utility vehicle (22.5%), small car (17.1%), sedan (13.7%), truck (11.9%), van (4.2%), sports car (1.7%), coupe (1.7%), and station wagon (1.4%). Only use of minivans (29%) during 2004–2005 was significantly higher than expected (7%). We discuss several competing hypotheses about why bears selected minivans.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/upload/bear-article.pdf

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After the first link to an interagency report, and a bear incidents summary from 2004 and 2003, this rest of this page has Park Service reports, in chronological order, from July, 2003; April 1, 2003; January 16, 2003; October 29, 2002; October 28, 1998 and November 18, 1997.

Yosemite National Park 2004 Black Bear Activity Report

Damage reports in the frontcountry: 600

Damage reports in parking areas: 285

Damage reports in campgrounds: 242

Damage reports in other areas: 73

Total number of vehicles damaged: 300

Damage reports in the backcountry: 121

People injured: 4

Bears captured: 16 (12 individuals)

Bears relocated: 3

Bears killed for management reasons: 3
(includes euthanasia of one sick bear)

Bears injured by vehicles: 16

Bears killed by vehicles: 4

(This number only includes confirmed fatalities. Includes one bear killed on Highway 140 outside the park.)

Total number of bear incidents: 721

Total amount of property damage: $108,657

These numbers reflect only those incidents that were reported. Actual numbers of damage reports and bears injured or killed by vehicles are higher.

Please report all bear incidents and sightings by calling the Save a Bear hotline at 209/372-0322.
Help keep Yosemite’s bears wild by storing your food properly!

Yosemite National Park summary of bear incidents and bear activity in 2003

Total Bear Incidents: 416

Total Property Damage: $51,359

Breakdown of Incidents and Damage Amounts:

Incidents / Damage

Parking Lots 105 $35,759

Campgrounds 111 $4614

Wilderness 138 $6274

Other* 62 $4712
*Tent Camps, Businesses, Residences, Picnic Areas, Climbing Routes

Valley District 248 $40,531

El Portal District 12 $2945

Tuolumne Area 17 $1559

Big Oak Flat 1 $50

Backcountry 138 $6274

#Vehicle Break-ins (Year 2003) 104 incidents $39,841 damage

#Vehicle Break-ins (Year 2002) 176 incidents $74,975 damage

#Vehicle Break-ins (Year 2001) 80 incidents $27,878 damage

#Vehicle Break-ins (Year 2000) 306 incidents $113,331 damage

Compared to 2002, bear incidents (559) are down by 25% and damage ($85,303) is down by 40%.

Compared to year 2001, bear incidents (230) are up by 81% and damage ($32,303) is up by 59%.

Compared to 2000, bear incidents (654) are down by 36% and damage ($126,192) is down by 59%.

Compared to 1998, bear incidents (1584) are down by 74% and damage ($659,569) is down by 92%.

Bear Captures

Captures: 19 (9 individual bears)

Adult females w/ cubs: 2

Cubs captured: 2

Yearling males: 2

Adult males: 3

Recaptures: 10

Radio Collared: 2

Relocated: 5

# killed for management reasons: 1

Bears vs. Vehicles: 14 (4 confirmed deaths) Includes bear killed on HWY 140 outside park boundary

Human injuries caused by bears: 2

From Yosemite National Park The Bear Facts (July 13 – July 19, 2003)

There are currently 19 black bears wearing radio collars in Yosemite. Last week, five radio collar signals were detected in the Valley.

Six vehicles were damaged by a bear in the Curry Village area last week, all vehicles contained food.

A large untagged/uncollared bear has been seen in Upper Pines and the Wilderness Lot, checking for improperly latched food storage lockers. Visitors have reported this bear going from site to site, banging on the locker latch. Unfortunately, the bear obtained food on at least three occasions from improperly latched lockers.

Several bears continue to obtain food from backpackers in the Little Yosemite Valley area, including the Sunrise Creek and Moraine Dome area. One bear has learned to snatch backpacks containing food from unsuspecting hikers who have left their packs on the ground while pumping water or using the restroom. Another bear has learned to intimidate campers, snatching their open bear canisters if they show signs of backing down. It is important for backpackers and hikers to always be aware of their surroundings and to watch for sneaky bears.

Let us know if you see a bear, no matter where it is or what it’s doing. Call 209/372-0322.

Note: A bear incident occurs when a bear causes a monetary loss to a person–that is, if the bear causes property damage or obtains food. Bear incidents also include cases of bears causing injury to a person (which are fairly uncommon).

Yosemite NP Daily Report 1 April 2003

PARK RESOURCES

Spring is in the Bear:
How to Protect Your Food and Yosemite National Park’s Bears

As black bears come out of hibernation this spring, they will consume over 4000 calories a day. Some bears continue to lose weight even after emerging from their winter dens and will spend most of their time looking for food.

In the springtime, bears will mostly forage on grasses and forbs. Bears will survive on grasses until the more nutritious and energy-rich berries become ripe.

Bears are opportunistic and will eat almost anything, including human food and trash. They are naturally curious and have a sense of smell that is better than any other animal. Bears can even smell canned food kept inside the trunk of a vehicle.

That is why Yosemite National Park’s black bears have learned to obtain human food in campgrounds and parking lots. They often lose their fear of humans as they get into improperly stored human food or trash that is improperly disposed of. Bears that obtain human food and garbage will continue to seek it out, sometimes showing aggressive behavior toward people while searching for food. These bears have become habituated and may no longer display the natural, wild behavior that is quintessential to seeing wildlife, like bears, in national parks.

By taking a few simple precautions, visitors can ensure that their food does not become part of the bears’ diets. “Food” includes any item with a scent, regardless of packaging. This may include items such as canned goods, bottles, drinks, soaps, cosmetics, toiletries, perfumes, trash, and even empty ice chests.

Visitors staying in hotel rooms should bring all food items into their rooms. If staying in campgrounds, tent cabins, and in Housekeeping Camp, store food in the food storage lockers provided. Day use visitors may leave food in vehicles during daylight hours, but must not store food in vehicles after dark.

For backpackers and climbers heading into the wilderness, bear-resistant food containers are available for rent. These containers are the most effective way to protect bears from your food and are highly recommended.

In some areas of the wilderness, National Park Service approved bear-resistant food containers are required. Bears have quickly learned that containers are not worth investigating, even though they smell like food.

Although visitors need to take precautions while staying in bear habitat, the likelihood of seeing bears in the park remains low. Bears, in their natural state, are shy and tend to avoid human contact. They are on a constant quest for food, so it may be that visitors see the results of bear activity, but never actually see the bear. Habituated bears will wait for the right opportunity, after visitors have gone to sleep for the night, to obtain food from cars and campsites.

As Yosemite’s black bears come out of hibernation, their hunger will lead them in search of the calories they need to regain the weight they lost in the winter. Visitors to the park, by taking a few basic precautions, can help ensure that when and if they see a bear in Yosemite, it will be a wild bear.

From the Yosemite National Park Daily Report January 16, 2003.

Summary of Bear Incidents and Bear Activity in 2002

Total Bear Incidents: 559

Total Property Damage: $85,303

Breakdown of Incidents and Damage Amounts:

(Incidents / Damage)

Parking Lots 175 / $71,144

Campgrounds 190 / $7118

Wilderness 130 / $3974

Other* 64 / $3067

*Tent Camps, Businesses, Residences, Picnic Areas, Climbing Routes

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Valley District 406 / $79,906

El Portal District 6 / $103

Tuolumne Area 13 / $1,220

Glacier Point 4 / $100

Backcountry 130 / $3,974

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#Vehicle Break-ins (Year 2002)

164 incidents / $70,897 damage

#Vehicle Break-ins (Year 2001)

80 incidents / $27,878 damage

#Vehicle Break-ins (Year 2000)

306 incidents / $113,331 damage

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Compared to year 2001, bear incidents (230) are up by 143% and damage ($32,303) is up by 164%.

Compared to 2000, bear incidents (654) are down by 15% and damage
($126,192) is down by 32%.

Compared to 1998, bear incidents (1584) are down by 65% and damage
($659,569) is down by 87%.

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Bear Captures

Captures: 35

Radio Collared: 8

Relocated: 5

# killed for management reasons: 1

Bears vs. Vehicles: 12 (4 confirmed deaths)

Human injuries caused by bears: 0

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Yosemite Valley Bear Captures (16 total)

Subadult females: 2

Adult females w/o cubs: 3

Adult females w/ cubs: 0

Cubs captured: 1

Yearling males: 1

Adult males: 9

Recaptures: 16

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Outside of Valley Bear Captures (2 total)

Yearling females: 1

Subadult males: 1

Recaptures: 1

Two cubs (#3824 and #2090) captured in 2001 and taken to the Idaho
Rehabilitation Center were returned to the park in January 2002. They were placed in a den near Tamarack Creek and have not been included in the statistics above. (D.Schweizer)

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Yosemite National Park News Release

October 29, 2002

For Immediate Release

Yosemite National Park Studies Black Bear Management Trends

Yosemite National Park experienced a dramatic decrease in human-bear incidents between 1998 and 2001, going from 1584 incidents to 230 incidents. However, human-bear incidents have increased to 539 to date in 2002.

bear incidents data chart:

Due to concerns about the upward trend this year, Yosemite National Park’s Bear Council is exploring changing trends in the number of human-bear incidents over the past five years. The council wants to better understand how Yosemite’s black bears interact with visitors and employees and how they respond to bear management practices.

The Yosemite Bear Council is composed of National Park Service employees representing each division and park partners such as Yosemite Association and Yosemite Concessions Services Corporation. The council works cooperatively to reduce human-bear conflicts and to maintain a naturally functioning population of black bears in Yosemite National Park.

Human-bear incidents reached a peak in 1998 with 1,584 incidents. The Yosemite Bear Council established the Wild Bear Project in 1999 to respond to increasing human-bear interactions.

The Yosemite Bear Council implemented multiple programs to decrease the number of incidents and to maintain a population of bears that were not habituated to humans or their food. A public education campaign informed park visitors and employees of how to behave in bear habitat and how to properly store food in Yosemite National Park. Bear proof food storage lockers and canisters were made available to visitors to help them properly store their food. Bear management techniques such as hazing bears away from developed areas like campgrounds have also been extensively used.

The Wild Bear Project has seen a great deal of improvement in human-bear interactions since it was established. Compared to 1998, incidents decreased by 87% in 2001 with only 230 human-bear incidents reported.

However, incidents have increased again in 2002 from the 2001 numbers. To date, 539 incidents have occurred in Yosemite National Park in 2002. While these numbers indicate success through The Wild Bear Project since 1999, the Yosemite Bear Council is concerned about increasing incidents in the park.

The Bear Council is exploring all options for why incidents are on the rise. The availability of black bears’ natural food sources this year, their ability to adapt to our wildlife management practices, and the possibility that park visitors need to be reminded that keeping bears wild is a long-term project that needs their continued diligence are all possibilities.

Yosemite National Park is working with the Wildlife Conservation Society/Hornocker Wildlife Institute researchers to better understand the habits of both black bears and how visitors perceive and understand the goals of bear management in the park. Through this research, the Yosemite Bear Council hopes to be able to further adapt The Wild Bear Project to have continued success.
Yosemite National Park needs to have continued support from visitors to the park. Through proper food storage and by respecting bears as wild animals, Yosemite’s black bears will become truly wild, beautiful bears.”

-NPS-

October 28, 1998

“YOSEMITE BREAKS RECORD FOR BEAR DAMAGE

Bear-human conflicts are continuing in Yosemite National Park after reaching record levels this summer. Property damage caused by black bears has exceeded $595,000 this calendar year with over 1025 vehicles broken into by bears. In 1997, approximately 900 cars were damaged by bears.

Wildlife biologists attribute the problem to the availability of human food. Park regulations require visitors to store all food and scented items in bear-proof metal food storage boxes when staying in park campgrounds or tent cabins. These boxes are located in all park campgrounds as well as some parking areas and trailheads. Once bears repeatedly get human food, they may become unnaturally aggressive. Bears that have become dangerous must be destroyed.

Three bears have been euthanized this year. Once all other courses of action have been exhausted, such as relocation, destructive bears are killed as a last resort. These animals had been regularly breaking into vehicles which did not contain food and had been charging at people.

Conflict between humans and bears date back to the 1920’s. The National Park Service has investigated different methods to reduce these interactions. This year, park staff and volunteers removed apples from non-native apple orchards. These orchards draw bears into Yosemite Valley and provide them with an unnatural food source.

Ultimately, the solution is to increase public education, expand food storage facilities, and step up enforcement of food storage regulations. These efforts, coupled with the help of the public, will decrease the availability of all unnatural food sources.”

November 18, 1997

“Property damage caused by black bears has exceeded $500,000 this calendar year in Yosemite National Park. Over half the damage has been reported in Curry Village in the east end of Yosemite Valley.
Wildlife biologists attribute the problem to the failure of some visitors to follow the park’s food storage guidelines, a lack of proper food storage facilities in the Curry Village area, and to an abundant apple crop from orchards planted by early Yosemite Valley settlers.

Once bears get human food, they continue to seek it out. When their instinctive fear of people fades, these unnaturally aggressive, destructive bears must be destroyed. One evening earlier this fall fourteen separate bears were spotted in the Curry Village parking area. Four bears have been euthanized in recent weeks as a last resort. These animals had been regularly breaking into vehicles which did not contain food and had been charging at people. Yosemite National Park Deputy Superintendent Hal Grovert noted “This action is regrettable. It certainly goes against the mission and philosophy of the National Park Service”. ”

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Get up early in the morning and go for a bike ride or walk or hike before other people are up and making noise, and you might be lucky enough to spot a bear having breakfast in a Yosemite meadow.

bear in tall grass

We watched this one for at least 20 minutes, and s/he did notice us, but we stayed still, then other not-very-quiet people came along and the bear noticed them and moved out of the meadow.

We saw where the bear was heading and had time to carefully stop oncoming traffic on southside drive before the bear crossed the road

and watched as s/he went up into the forest across the road.

bear walking along forest path

The story above is from Bears

rocks packed together

Tuolumne food storage locker: campsite food bear box:

Using a campsite food storage locker gives you ideas on how to use a metal campsite food storage locker, including some logistics on sharing one in a large group.

stones in a row on a wall
 
 

A good way to wake up the whole campground is to set your car alarm. Then if a curious animal or clumsy person bumps the vehicle at night you’ve succeeded. (The alarm won’t keep bears out of your vehicle).

Tent walls are thin. You can wake up everybody in the vicinity when you want to get into your car and you use the keyless (remote) door opener and the car makes the usual loud beep. People don’t think to just use the key to open the door or don’t know that if you look in the owner’s manual you can find a way to disable the beep.

For a laugh, go to:
Camping Blunders