Effectiveness of Human-Bear Management at Protecting Visitors and Property in Yosemite National Park

Photo by Jeff Keay

Keay, J. A. and M. G. Webb. 1989. Effectiveness of human-bear management at protecting visitors and property in Yosemite National Park. Bear-People Conflicts: Proceedings of a Symposium on Management Strategies. M. Bromley, Editor. pp145-154.

ABSTRACT: Yosemite National Park initiated an intensive Human/Bear Management Program in 1975 to restore the natural abundance, behaviour and ecological integrity of the black bear (Ursus americanus) population, and provide for the safety of visitors and their property. The program included (1) public information and education, (2) removal of artificial food sources, (3) law enforcement, (4) control of problem bears, and (5) research and monitoring. There was a significant reduction in property damage incidents during the 12-year reporting period in 4 front-country subdistricts. The number of personal injuries declined significantly throughout the park. The program was most successful where all 5 program elements were fully implemented. Public information messages must by strongly worded and motivating to be effective. Strict law enforcement may be an alternative motivational method. Food and refuse storage facilities must be easy to use, readily available, and effective. Bears presented with gradually reduce availability of food developed more sophisticated behaviours that permitted access to human foods during the study. Removal of such animals may be necessary.