Photo: Josh Helling

Yosemite has a long and tedious history managing bears, people, and the interactions between the two. In 1998, the park hit a record high number of bear incidents in the park with over 1,500 (documented) incidents in one year. This was a huge turning point for the park in changing the way that we managed our bears, and more importantly, people. Beginning in 1999, massive efforts to provide public information and education regarding bears and food storage, along with improvements to the park’s bear-resistant food storage and garbage disposal infrastructure greatly reduced availability of human foods to bears and educated millions of visitors. Additionally, individual bears were managed more directly/rapidly with an intensive program to scare them away from development using anything from yelling to less-than-lethal shotgun rounds. These efforts resulted in quick and major improvements to human-bear conflict. But still, the number of bear incidents remained in the hundreds each year for well over a decade.

With the use of technology, incidents have now been under one hundred per year for over four years. This year we’ve hit a new record low, with only about 22 bear incidents total for 2018. If you want to learn more about how the park used technology to further reduce bear incidents, you are in luck! There is a new journal article out describing how technology was used in Yosemite’s Human-Bear Management Program to bring the number of human-bear conflicts in the park to new record lows.

Mazur, Rachel L.; Leahy, Ryan M.; Lee-Roney, Caitlin J.; and Patrick, Kathleen E. (2018) “Using Global Positioning System Technology to Manage Human-Black Bear Incidents at Yosemite National Park,” Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 12 : Iss. 3 , Article 8.

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