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Yosemite's Bears Love Human Food

Beware with your food stuffs in Yosemite National Park - the black bears have a hearty appetite. Here are our tips for proper food storage while camping and exploring.

American Black Bear
Deposit Photos

Yogi Bear wasn’t the only bear to appreciate a picnic basket full of goodies. Like their fictional friend, the American black bears that inhabit Yosemite National Park also love a thick sandwich or bag of chips. Arguably, these bears like people food just as much as people do.

Bears’ considerable appetite and powerful sense of smell make it easy for them to pick up the scent of a nearby Yosemite visitor’s food, which can lead them to infringe on what was originally supposed to be a relaxing breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack in the wilderness. Unfortunately however, bears that develop a taste for human vittles can become dangerous and aggressive. If the animal becomes problematic and repeatedly gets into human food, the bear may have to be relocated or even put down.

How to Store Your Food In Yosemite National Park

Do your part to protect the hundreds of black bears living in Yosemite and store your food properly by following these guidelines:

– The term “food” is used loosely. It basically refers to anything that has a scent, whether it’s edible or not. Toothpaste, gum, scented soaps, toiletries and even empty ice chests all fall into this broad “food” category. Be sure to store these items just as you would your peanut butter and jelly. Remember trash is also considered food to a bear.

– Food can be stored inside a closed car (windows rolled all the way up; doors closed; food out of sight) only during the daytime. After dark, however, use one of the many bear-proof, metal food lockers scattered among campsites and trailheads.

– Beware of extra crumbs, wrappers or garbage in your car. Bears can pick up the scent, so be sure to clean out your vehicle and dispose of all trash before leaving your car.

BearVault Bear Canister
BearVault Bear Canister (Courtesy Photo)

– When camping in the backcountry all food should be stored in a bear canister and placed 100 feet away from your campsite. (It is no longer legal to hang food in a bear bag in the park.) When camping in the front country (“car camping”) store food not in use in the provided lockers. Try to avoid eating or preparing food in your tent – and never store food in your tent. Bears can easily smell food and will unabashedly enter campsites even when campers are present. And remember, food trash and wrappers are equally enticing to a bear – store these as you would food.

– Food can be kept inside a hotel room, but be sure that all windows and doors are closed when residents aren’t present.

– Don’t ever turn your back on your food while at a picnic area or on the trail.

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