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With Yosemite National Park closed to visitors, bears are out and about

One park ranger says that without any guests around, animals in Yosemite National Park are basically 'having a party.'

With the coronavirus pandemic keeping visitors away from Yosemite National Park, bears and wildlife are getting a chance to explore areas where they're not often see. 

Since March 20, Yosemite has been closed to guests to prevent the spread of coronavirus and only a small group of park service workers have been left to tend to the park. But rangers have been keeping Yosemite's social media accounts active, giving a look at what it's like for the wildlife with no guests around. 

Park ranger Katie, who has worked with black bears in Yosemite for more than 10 years, said in a Facebook live video on Sunday that for the most part, the animals right now are having a "party."

She noted that this time of year can be difficult for the animals as more tourists start flooding into the park as the weather gets nicer. 

"There can be literally walls of cars, stop-and-go traffic or people in the park," she said. "And so, for the bears, they normally have pick these little corridors that they have to move through in the valley to get from Point A to Point B." 

But with the ongoing coronavirus closure, the bears are being seen more frequently out in the open.

"Now, that there are no people the bears are literally just walking down the road to get to where they need to go, which is kind of cool to see," Park ranger Katie described. 

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A worker at Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel told the Los Angeles Times it seems like the "bear population has quadrupled." 

But the park's official Instagram account explained in a post Monday that there hasn't been a population increase since the closure, the bears are just being seen more frequently than usual.

Yosemite black bear climbing a tree

Yosemite National Park is home to about 300-500 black bears. Though there hasn't been an increase in their population since the park closure, bears have been seen more frequently than usual, likely due to the absence of visitors in Yosemite Valley. If you tuned into our livestream yesterday, wildlife biologist Ranger Katie showed us how Yosemite's bear team uses radio collars to track some of the park's bears, and we picked up the signal of a large male bear in the meadow nearby! Shortly afterward, that same bear was caught on camera by one of our volunteers, who watched from the window of the Rangers' Club as it climbed up a nearby tree. The bear sat high on a branch for a little while and then struggled to decide how to safely get back down, making this one of the more entertaining wildlife sightings we've had this spring! Check out yesterday's livestream to learn more about Yosemite's black bears and how we can all help to keep them wild: https://www.facebook.com/YosemiteNPS/videos/664884761011559/ You can also find information about protecting Yosemite's iconic bears at www.KeepBearsWild.org

Posted by Yosemite National Park on Monday, April 13, 2020

Ranger Katie noted in the Facebook Live that once guests are allowed back in the park, there may be a little bit of a "learning curve" for bears to realize which human-filled areas they should avoid again. 

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