Ask a baby boomer about Yogi Bear and she’ll still chuckle about his never-ending quest for “pic-a-nic” baskets. But it’s doubtful that you would find the real-life prospect of a bear stealing your food to be quite so amusing. Rangers in Yosemite National Park are turning to a high-tech solution to this natural problem.
The popular tourist attraction is also home to approximately 400 black bears. Park rangers routinely warn the four million annual visitors about the dangers of easily accessible food. Even a locked car is not enough of an obstacle to protect edibles from a hungry bear.
A bear management team recently began using collars equipped with GPS trackers to gather data about their feeding and mating habits along with other regular activities. The devices are serving double duty as a means to monitor bear movement near campgrounds and parking lots.
In 1998 the staff at Yosemite began a formal campaign to educate park visitors about safeguarding their food from possible bear attacks. While the program has been successful, resulting in a 92 percent drop in reported bear encounters, 2014 saw a reversal of that trend.
During the first three quarters of the year, the number of incidents involving bears raiding campgrounds and parking lots for food has increased 35 percent over the same time period in 2013. This marks the second such increase in the last three years. Officials believe one cause is the lengthy drought that has limited the supply of natural food such as berries.
When a bear proves to be too unmanageable, rangers relocate them away from the park’s developed areas. One or two bears a year have been killed when they continue to pose a significant threat, but that number is down considerably from the years of peak activity.
Yosemite is not the only area in California dealing with bear control. Roughly 30,000 black bears inhabit the state and they have begun wandering into cities such as Monterey and San Luis Obispo, according to Marc Kenyon of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The chance to see bears and other wildlife in their natural habitat is one of the main draws of Yosemite. Thanks to GPS tracking, visitors can continue to enjoy these sights from a safe distance. When you need to track your business’ valuable assets instead of wildlife, make sure to consider GPSTrackIt for your vehicle tracking and asset protection needs.
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