American black bear

I’ve been to a number of parks and campgrounds in the Appalachians, northern Michigan, and the southwest that hinted at the presence of American black bears (Ursus americanus, Ursidae).  These places had bear-resistant trash cans and some had warnings about sealing food out of reach.  When I went to Yosemite National Park a few weeks ago these hints were again present, along with some more explicit warnings:

Bear warning photographed 08/12/2011 at Kings Canyon National Park, California.

That sign was actually photographed at Kings Canyon to the south of Yosemite, but they were at Yosemite as well.  Still, I’ve been teased with the threat of bears many times and I didn’t think much of the warnings.

But then while mulling around Yosemite Falls, I noticed a group of people congregating:

Yosemite Falls photographed 08/11/2011 at Yosemite National Park, California.

I could tell they weren’t marveling at the falls, they were looking at something else:

People staring at an American black bear (Ursus americanus, Ursidae) hiding in a tree. Photographed 08/11/2011 at Yosemite National Park, California.

I knew it must have been a bear.  I got a bit closer, but the crowd was too dense to get as close as I would have liked.  I managed to get these sketchy photos of the bear everyone was watching.

American black bear (Ursus americanus, Ursidae) photographed 08/11/2011 at Yosemite National Park, California.

This bear stayed pretty well hidden in this tree, only poking its muzzle and ears out in fleeting instants.

American black bear (Ursus americanus, Ursidae) photographed 08/11/2011 at Yosemite National Park, California.

Estimates put their American population at over 300,000 individuals, but despite this healthy size they’re continually threatened by habitat loss and potentially deadly encounters with humans for their food, trash, pets and livestock (hence the warnings at many parks).

American black bear (Ursus americanus, Ursidae) photographed 08/11/2011 at Yosemite National Park, California.

This one seemed a bit annoyed with the attention, as if it wished everyone would just go away.  Then again Yosemite is one of the most-visited national parks and many bears are probably accustomed to the people, especially here in the busy Yosemite Valley.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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