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Blog Bear Down… Yosemite Bears – Fun Facts About These Furry Creatures
Alex Silgalis | 02/01/2021Hiking, Nature, Photography, Seasons, Wildlife |   

Once you spot your first bear in Yosemite, there’s a rainbow of emotions that flow over you. Awe, excitement, and of course a bit of fear. Use common sense around these large dwellers in Yosemite, and you’ll come home safe. If you want a few tips on how to stay safe, consider reading the Local Freshies® article Soft, Fluffy, & Cute – Tips Gained From A Personal Bear Encounter. With that being said, here’s a few fun facts about Yosemite’s Bears.

How Many Live In Yosemite

According to the NPS, the 1,169 square miles of the park boundary are home to somewhere between 300 and 500 black bears.

Black Bears Aren’t Just Black

Image appears courtesy: NPS - An example of a brown Black Bear in YosemiteWhen you first encounter a bear in Yosemite, you might think, “Oh no, it’s a Grizzly!” Many people do. Despite it being on the California state flag, the grizzly hasn’t existed in the state since the 1920’s. In fact, black bears aren’t just black. You may see one that is brown, reddish-brown, or even blond.

Biggest Boys And Gals Of The Sierra Nevada

The American Black Bear isn’t just big, but rather the largest mammal in the Sierra Nevada. Males on average weigh between 300 and 350 pounds while females are a bit lighter. Standing upright, they can be anywhere from five to seven feet in height. The largest bear ever caught inside the park weighed in at a hefty 690 pounds.

What Do Black Bears In Yosemite Eat

Whiteleaf manzanita leaves and berries - Photo by: Leia Althauser - Image appears courtesy: NPSNaturally omnivorous, they’re normally seen foraging for berries and eating acorns and grasses. You may even see them ripping open logs to eat the insects underneath the bark.

The Kings Of Bulking Up

During the fall months, in preparation for hibernation, bears eat up to 20,000 calories every day. That's like eating nine large cheese pizzas, about 35 medium bean and cheese burritos, or 93 Snickers bars every single day! In terms of a bear's natural diet, it's equal to over 11 pounds of acorns or around 100 pounds of berries. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud.

Slow Y’er Roll

Fall foliage highlights the roads in Yosemite ValleyPhoto by: Steve MontaltoYosemite is home to not just black bears but all sorts of wildlife. Don’t rush to get to your final destination. Instead, appreciate the journey. You can do this by obeying speed limits and being prepared to stop for animals in roadways. Sadly, at least fourteen bears have been hit by vehicles this year in Yosemite and at least five of them have died. Let’s not add to this statistic.

Hey There, Boo Boo! I Stole A Pic-a-Nic Basket

We can’t iterate this enough - DO NOT feed the bears. The saying we’ve heard repeatedly by local residents is, “A fed bear is a dead bear.” A food-conditioned bear becomes a nuisance and a danger to people. Make sure they can live a healthy and happy life. That means putting your trash in bear proof cans and store your food properly all year-round.

Do Bears Hibernate

If you are wondering do the black bears in Yosemite hibernate, it’s not as simple as a yes or no. It's really a matter of food. If they keep finding things to eat, they’ll stay awake. But once they start using more energy than they can find in food, they’ll hibernate. Some years, this means much later or earlier depending on the environment. As we stated above, if a bear figures out how to gain access to human food or trash, they may skip hibernation altogether.

For the latest goings-on in Yosemite surrounding the Black Bears, be sure to visit the Bear Team Blog page.


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Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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