Record-low bear incidents in Yosemite National Park

Credit: Hillary Hartley

Credit: Hillary Hartley


Author: D. Madison
Date: 12.02.15

In light of recent headlines drawing attention to human-bear encounters (thinking of you, Leonardo DiCaprio), TrailMob wanted to pass along some actual news on the subject (as opposed to the salacious movie promotion headlines). According to the National Park Service, Yosemite National Park recorded the lowest number of human-bear incidents since 1975 - the year the park first initiated its bear management program.

In 2015, there were 76 reported incidents resulting in just under $5,000 in property damage (a “bear incident” is when a bear causes property damage, obtains human food or acts aggressively towards a person). Contrast this to 1998, in which there were approximately 1600 incidents resulting in $660,000 in property damage. More good news is that no single incident resulted in a human injuries caused by bears (making four years in a row of such feat).  

The National Park Service attributes its good fortune to the public awareness and following of necessary precautions when traveling in bear country. In 2000, and in addition to other measures (such as improved food storage options within the park) the park unveiled the “Keep Bears Wild” campaign, which continues today. The campaign focuses on educating visitors and employees about their responsibility to store food properly while visiting Yosemite (at one point bears were known to break into as many as a dozen cars per evening in search of that road-trip Snickers bar). Park rangers continue to educate visitors in person, produce videos, post signs, distribute flyers, and work with the news media to improve public awareness.  “We would like to thank park visitors for their help in making this campaign an overwhelming success,” stated Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent. “There is no more of a rewarding experience than seeing a bear foraging naturally.”

Related Content:

Outdoors Skill:  How to Avoid Bear Encounters

Field Guides:  Black Bear, Grizzly Bear

A few Yosemite Trails: 

Mirror Lake

Vernal Falls Footbridge

Cook's Meadow Loop

Wawona Meadow Loop

Glacier Point via Four Mile Trail