Bears Are Climbing Yosemite’s Half Dome. Here’s What to Do if You Encounter One.

Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome, renowned for its breathtaking vistas, might offer more than panoramic views. Recent evidence suggests black bears have also been climbing to the top of the summit.

Unlike humans, bears are natural climbers that can scale the quartz rock formation’s steep 46-degree angle without the aid of the 425-foot cable typically used by climbers. This discovery prompted park rangers to remind visitors of bear safety precautions on social media.

“This observation serves as a good reminder that bear safety applies EVERYWHERE in Yosemite,” stated park officials on Facebook. They advised visitors to keep food and other aromatic items locked away in lockers or canisters and to ensure backpacks and belongings are secured to prevent them from being raided by bears or the cunning Half Dome ground squirrels.

While Yosemite is home to an estimated 300 to 500 black bears, interactions are typically non-aggressive, with incidents often involving property damage or food theft. Bear attacks on humans are rare, with no fatalities ever reported in Yosemite.

This year, the park has documented 10 bear-related incidents, most of which occurred in residential areas. Bear encounters with vehicles on park roads have also occurred, with collisions being a significant cause of bear mortality in the park.

In the case of a bear encounter, officials advise visitors to stand their ground, make loud noises, and avoid surrounding the animal. If the bear doesn’t leave, leaving the area is recommended. Feeding or attempting to retrieve food from a bear can lead to aggressive behavior and potential euthanization.

For encounters in undeveloped areas, maintaining a distance of at least 20 yards is suggested. Black bears may exhibit bluff charges if cubs or food are involved.

Yosemite visitors spotting bears are urged to contact the park service at (209) 372-0322.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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