American black bears found in Yosemite National Park are of great interest to park visitors, providing excitement, fear, and awe. If you see a bear eating berries or sauntering across a meadow, it’s definitely a moment for the memory bank. However, you should be careful of any close encounters with bears. Even though no deaths related to bears have been reported in Yosemite, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you encounter a bear, you need to keep your distance. If you are in an undeveloped area, stay at least 50 yards away from the bear. Never try and get close to a bear, regardless of its size. Make noise by clapping your hands and banging pots and pans. If you are in a group, all the people need to stand together, while always giving the bear space to escape. On developed areas, you should stay where you are, while raising your arms and making loud noises.
The most important thing you can do is follow the parks food storage regulations. Apart from keeping you safe, ignoring or not following them can have unwanted consequences. You may face a fine of up to $5,000, have your car impounded and your camping permit revoked.
The black bears found at Yosemite National Park are curious animals, with a voracious appetite and a heightened sense of smell. All of this makes human food appetizing for them, and they will do incredible things to get to the source of food. Bears have been known to break car windows, enter the car to get at food that’s stored in the trunk and bend car frames.
What is considered food?
Food is regarded as any item that has a scent. Items which under other circumstances you would not consider food are considered food in the park. These items include canned goods, soaps, bottles, toiletries, dirty pots or pans, drinks, and cosmetics. All of these articles, along with actual food, need to be properly stored.
How do I store food?
- Inside your car: Your food may be stored inside your vehicle during the daytime, as long as it’s out of sight with entirely shut windows. After dark, use a food locker, and clear your car of any leftover crumbs, bottles, and food wrappers. Remove any scented items such as sunscreens or cosmetics also, as these can smell like food.
- In your tent: You mustn’t keep any food or scented items inside your tent. Store all your food in the food lockers provided. Take out only the food you will be needing at that moment, and store your trash in your locker or dump it in a bear-proof dumpster.
- Hotel room or cabin: All food must be kept inside the room. If you’re inside, make sure the door is closed, and lock all doors and windows when you leave.
- Lockers: Yosemite has lockers available to visitors available throughout the park. You’ll need your own padlock, however.
- While hiking: Store your food in portable canisters, and keep it close to you. Never leave your food unattended, as bears will come and investigate even if people are around.
No matter your type of lodging, always place your trash in a bear-proof dumpster or garbage can. You are required to do so by the parks law, and it will keep bears away from populated areas.