You Can Track Yosemite's Bears on This New Website
The national park is home to several hundred black bears.
Nature enthusiasts can now track the movements of some of Yosemite's black bears with a new website.
Keepbearswild.org tracks the movements of the bears so that visitors to the parks can avoid encountering them, particularly in their cars, the Associated Press reported. At least 28 car accidents involving bears took place in Yosemite last year, and several of those accidents were fatal for the animals, according to the same report.
The website also serves to teach the public and the research community more about this often elusive population.
“I think people are going to be blown away,” Ryan Leahy, a wildlife biologist at Yosemite National Park and project leader, told AP. “It's our responsibility to keep bears wild.”
The website will have a small delay so that park visitors are not encouraged to track the bears in real-time.
Researchers at Yosemite have increasingly used GPS tracking to keep an eye on the bear population. Park workers have outfitted several bears with radio collars in a recent attempt to monitor their interaction with humans.
Some of the bears have developed an appetite for human food after snacking on some of the treats brought into the park by visitors. Leahy and his team used the GPS tracking to find the bears and condition them not to come onto campgrounds, for the health and safety of both the humans and the animals, according to a statement from the park.
“Our job is to mitigate the availability of human food to bears to prevent that behavior from becoming ingrained,” Leahy said. “It’s bear management, but it’s mostly human management.”
Yosemite sees millions of visitors every year, and April is likely to be a popular month. As part of National Park Week, U.S. National parks will waive their entrance fees for two weekends, making the parks free to all visitors.