5 Tips for Being Bear Aware


Get Your Guide to Safe Camping in Black Bear Country

ABOVE: A black bear wets its whistle at Yosemite National Park. NPS photo by SCA intern Dakota McCoy.

Yosemite National Park in California is one of the most visited parks in the entire National Park Service system, receiving approximately 4 million visitors each year. Out of those 4 million people, more than 50,000 of them come to Yosemite ready to head into the backcountry to experience what Yosemite is truly about — wilderness.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” – John Muir

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With recreational use in Yosemite increasing each year, we often find the number of bear related incidents in the backcountry increasing as well. Black bears are curious, intelligent, and opportunistic. Once they get their first taste of human food, they’re likely to keep coming back for more. With their keen sense of smell, they can detect odors from over a mile away. So, whether you’re headed to the backcountry, or to a developed campground, and whether you’re headed to Yosemite, or to anywhere else in black bear country, make sure to take all of the necessary precautions to keep your food safe.

Throughout much of Yosemite’s history, bear incidents averaged upwards of 2,000 per year. Now, thanks to the implementation of the Bear Management Program, estimates fall at only around 200 per year. NPS Bear Management crewmembers at Yosemite and other black bear populated sites work tirelessly to ensure that food is stored properly and that people heading into the backcountry are traveling with bear canisters, as well as the knowledge needed to have a safe trip. Our efforts and main objectives are to educate visitors on being bear aware, and to teach them about the importance of storing their food/toiletries.

Read Dakota’s story about a typical day in the life an SCA Yosemite Bear Intern.