Yosemite National Park has launched an online bear tracker, which shows everyone where bears are roaming and hanging out. The bear tracker can be seen at KeepBearsWild.org. The hope is that by better understanding bears patterns and by knowing where they are park rangers will be able to keep bears away from humans during times when they come out of hibernation.


Media: WochIt Media

A new website lays bare a conflict between motor cars and bears in Yosemite.

Judging by the site, called Keep Bears Wild, the automobiles are winning.

Vehicles struck 28 bears in Yosemite in 2016, according to the site. The bear-car encounters, which peaked in 2015 with 38, have been rising since 1995, when the National Park Service first began keeping records.

“We’re not sure why” there has been an increase, said Ryan Leahy, a wildlife biologist for the Yosemite National Park bear program. “It could be because vehicle technology allows cars to travel more rapidly on the roadways” and “sometimes vegetation encroaches on the roadway and impedes motorists’ line of sight.”

Leahy said 10 of the bears hit last year were killed, but the death toll is probably higher given that the powerful bruins often drag themselves off the road after being hit and can sometimes travel long distances before succumbing to their wounds.

The information is all on the website, which features the National Park Service’s first online bear tracker at http://keepbearswild.org/bear-tracker. The tracking site, which is expected to be more lively in a few weeks after hibernation, follows 20 or so bears affixed with GPS collars. The data are delayed a day on the public site to protect hibernating or injured bears.


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The site “is an important way to raise awareness, appreciation and respect for Yosemite’s beloved black bears,” said Yosemite Superintendent Chip Jenkins. “Our message is simple: Everyone can keep bears wild by driving slowly, storing food properly and staying at a safe distance when you see them.”

It is all part of a public information campaign started in 1998 called Keep Bears Wild. The burly omnivores were involved in 1,584 aggressive incidents that year, including car and cabin break-ins, the snatching of tourist lunches and garbage raids.