Encountering Black Bears in Yosemite National Park 

Encountering Black Bears in Yosemite National Park

When entering Yosemite National Park or any wilderness area bears call their home, like while on a Yosemite hiking trip, keep in mind you are visiting it’s territory. While it is common to see a bear in Yosemite, not every visitor will encounter one. If you are lucky enough to see a bear roving the backcountry or more likely the populated areas like Yosemite Valley, keep the following in mind while reaching for your camera:

  • Respect the bear silently through quiet, brief observation.
  • Keep at least 300 feet between you and the bear.
  • Never get between a bear and her cubs.
  • Stay together if you are with friends or family.
  • Avoid stopping in the middle of the road to observe the bear. This stops traffic and there are few ways to get around the park by car. This is also very disrespectful for everyone now waiting 20 cars back just for you to get a bear picture.

We are all responsible for keeping bears wild and not dependent on human food. They should not feel invited to dine with you at the pic-a-nic table. If you have a black bear attempting to dine with you in your campground, picnic area or lodging area use the following suggestions to un-invite the bear:

  • Make a lot of noise – yell, bang pots and pans, or anything noisy you have nearby.
  • Make yourself look as big as possible standing up and putting your arms in the air or by using towels, jackets, etc. around you to make you look bigger.
  • Never approach the bear or try to scare it by charging it.  Giving it food will not make it go away, so avoid giving into the begging bear and the sorrowful eyes routine.
  • Never surround the bear – make sure it has an available escape route.
  • Never get between a bear and her cubs.
  • Bear got your apple pie? Let him have it!  He will not give it back if you ask nice and he is much stronger and bigger than you.
  • Report bear encounters and sightings to a ranger or leave a message on the “Yosemite Save A Bear Hotline” at 209.372.0322.

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