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:
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:
I could tell they weren’t marveling at the falls, they were looking at something else:
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.
This bear stayed pretty well hidden in this tree, only poking its muzzle and ears out in fleeting instants.
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).
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.