There are so many random things going on right now in the world of Yosemite wildlife. Variety is the spice of life, and it is definitely keeping life exciting.
The bears are generally eating natural food sources right now, which is great. We have been watching them eat apples, blackberries, and scouring logs for insects. The apples are blooming but are not quite ripe for human consumption. It is legal to pick apples in Yosemite, and Wednesday the 10th of August is the official apple picking day, where many volunteers will empty the trees of apples. We do this to keep the bears out of developed areas, as the most prominent orchards are right in the middle of parking lots. Bears in the middle of parking lots? Maybe parking lots should not be in the middle of bear habitat, but that is another issue!
We have been opening traps every night to try and catch a couple of specific bears. These bears have been getting backpacks, scouring through picnic areas, and one in particular has possibly tried to break in to a house just a few doors down from me. This morning, I was able to release a bear alone, and I captured a video of it. You might be able to see a hint of fear in my eyes, as I was alone. Logistically it is hard to release a bear alone, especially when you are trying to film it.
On a sadder note, three bears have been hit and killed in the last three days. A bear each day. The phrase “Speeding kills bears,” could not hold more true right now. People are so mesmerized by their surroundings that they are looking everywhere but the road. We hope this pattern ends because it is heartbreaking to move a cub off the road, especially when the sow and another cub are watching the deceased and acting confused and sad.
My coworker Katie is doing her master’s project on Yosemite road-kills this season, with an emphasis on bears. She will be analyzing a variety of environmental factors that contribute towards bear-vehicle collisions, and suggesting ways to improve the situation in the future. It is a very exciting and pertinent study.
So if you know anyone who will be vacationing in Yosemite this summer, please let them know that the signs that say “Speeding Kills Bears” are there in place of a bear, a bear hit or killed this season. Let them know that if they are patient, willing to get up early or stay up late, and willing to get out of their car and walk through nature, they will likely see a bear doing natural things.