There are most definitely bears living in and around Yosemite National Park. NEVER leave food or anything with human smells such as deoderant, mouth wash, toothpaste, etc., in your car or in your tent. Also, bears have learned that paper and plastic bags hold food, and metal spray canisters often hold food - so if they even SEE those, regardless of what they may or may not contain, the bears will do their best to get at those items.
Every year a LOT of cars are destroyed by hungry and curious bears.
If you're staying in a hotel, make sure you take all tempting items to your room with you. If you aren't staying inside a hotel, all campsites provide Bear Boxes, where you can store your food. Use 'em!
On one trip to Yosemite, we had just pulled in, set up our tent and were laying enjoying the sun. All of a sudden the sun was blocked out, not by a cloud, but by a bear walking over us. Yes, he walked right over us to get to our tent to see what we had brought for him. Fortunately, we had not unpacked the food, it was still in the van. Seeing easier picking, he proceeded to walk about 50 yards away and entered the tent of our neighbors, who were inside!
Well first they came running out and then the bear came running out with a package of Oreo's in hand. He was one happy bear.
Over the years the park has been diligent about moving bears like this one, who were just a bit too familiar with the valley floor and moved them to remote areas, but people still leave food around, and worse, they try to feed the animals. The temptation is great, but you have to realize that these are really wild animals taking advantage of our processed food habits. In a pinch, they will revert to wildness. Check out the bear movies that they show you in the valley. Those guys can open a locked car to get a cookie in a seconds flat by pulling open the window frame!
Hey, we all gotta eat and that included the wildlife, so be sure to follow some basic food storage rules.
1) Don't leave food in your car unless you think that dents and broken glass will improve its appearance
2) Don't leave food unattended. Store it in one of the many food storage lockers like you see here
3) Keep in mind that animals smell better than you, so anything with a food-like scent (coconut scented sunscreen or minty toothpaste for example) might attract attention
4) If you're camping, keep your campground clean. Discard trash in the bearproof cans provided by the park
If you are approached by a bear, your best bet is to make a lot of noise. Throw rocks, wave your arms, do whatever you gotta do, even if you look like a raving lunatic (in fact, the more raving the better).
I was there for a few months and did I get to see a bear? NO!!! I couldn't believe it. Everyone else did--I would arrive someplace like 2 minutes after a bear was spotted. It became embarrassing. But I have never had good luck spotting wildlife--I am not a very lucky person.
But the marmots...they had a thing against me, I think. Early in the morning when I'd stay up at White Wolf, I go out to the shower/bathroom facility and there they were. Staring. Plotting. Waiting. An organized marmot family, that's what they were. Later, we would be climbing on the rocks and the big intimidating marmot would make his presences known and his little marmot groupies...oh, they were there too! Just don't make these guys mad...they remember.
I still liked seeing them, though--despite their obvious agenda. :)
The many times we have camped here, we are always careful in how we store our food and for good reason. Bears are very frequent visitors into the camping sites because of all the available food . The park rangers try very hard to education the campers because of so many close calls with the bears. I kid you not, thay are able to open a car or truck like it is a beer can and they do it all the time. They are known to wonder into a tent or two in search of the food. So heed the warnings of how to store your food at the camps.
Also, its a good idea not to approach the wild deer. As fragile as they may seem, they pack a powerful bunch which has been documented in causing serious injuries and death to those who approach in a attempt in feeding or petting them. Please keep an eye on your children.
Food Storage from bears
Facing down a bear in Yosemite Valley is very unlikely as the rangers are quick to capture and transfer the animals elsewhere. Bears are easily the most dangerous animals in California, even more so than the powerful cougar. When in the alpine regions of Yosemite, it's important to understand that bears are fully capable of opening a car door to remove what food may be inside. At the Happy Isles Nature Center there is a bent up car window frame to show the ease with which a bear can enter a car. When I was a young hiker, I once lost all my dried rice to a bear during the night. I had tried to hide the food in a place I thought the bear would not find it, but found later that this place was in fact quite easy for the bear. I have also lost backpacks that were strung up in trees to bear that managed to cut the cord holding them there. I would perhaps be more worried about a confrontation with a cougar; however, as the California brown bears normally don't attack humans. Several times, I and others have chased away bears in the middle of the night with flash lights and the banging of pans. So while losing ones sustaining food supply is not fun, I confess that watching a bear run is much more fun than chasing a cat or dog. During the past decade or so, bear proof containers have been designed, and these are now required for all hiking overnight into Yosemite's alpine regions. Fortunately, the ranger stations provide use of these free, with a modest deposit to ensure their return. Use the bear container not only for food, but for anything that could possibly smell like food. Naturally, those who might be tempted to arm themselves to defend against a bear attack are risking jail time for killing a Yosemite bear. See the link for more details on food storage to avoid problems with bears.
Upon first arriving at Housekeeping camp, the first thing you are treated to is stock footage of a bear literally tearing open a car ass if it where made out of foil. I guess they do that to show you what can happen if you aren't careful. So basically, don't leave ANYTHING in your car. Take out all food items, toiletries, or anything that be easily mistaken by bears as food. I've been told that bears can sense food that is sealed inside a can, which is locked in a cool box in your trunk. Don't believe me? Well, that's up to you really... better be safe than sorry. Use the bear boxes provided, or else i hope you have bear damage insurance.
The first thing you'll notice upon entering Curry Village in Yosemite, are the signs everywhere warning about bears. They even have a looping video that runs all day long behind the counter when you sign in at the front office.
So, you get these "Bear Lockers" in which to stowe away anything that has a smell or taste to it - items ranging from the obvious like food and snacks, to deoderant and toothpaste. (Apparently the bears have developed a taste for domestic toiletries.)
We had the fear of God put into us with all this bear stuff.
One night as we lay huddled in a fetal position on top of our bare cots, we heard a noise. Actually it was a kind of low growl....and it continued to grow louder. Damn! Who left the toothpaste in our backpack in the tent-cabin, instead of storing it in the Bear Locker like we were supposed to?! What to do now?
We fought over who would get out of the cot, retrieve the toothpaste and dash to the nearest "bear locker" to stash it (at 2:00 am). Overhead and lending to the "Deliverance" kind of atmosphere, a bare bulb was spinning around and around - we'd switched it on out of reflex (and yeah, terror) - and then hurriedly yanked it back off, fearing the light would attract the would-be intruder. Between the spinning bare bulb, the sound of our rapid breathing and the intermittent but continous low growling, we were paralyzed with fear on top of our stiff, stark cots in our lonely, spartan tent-cabin.
Can bears rip through wood?
The next morning, our next door "tent-cabin" neighbor asked us if we'd heard her husband snoring all night, and she apologized if we'd been disturbed by it.
We felt foolish.....
Beware of Bears!
If you plan on camping, you must follow the proper storage instructions for your food. The park is well marked with signs, notifying you of the dangers. The bears will come into the camp looking for a snack. They are extremely dangerous, and can be very destructive...even tearing into vehicles if they smell food inside.
Read up on bears and how to protect yourself before you go to Yosemite. There are 20,000 to 24,000 black bears that live in California. Yosemite estimates about 300 to 500 bears live in the Park. Most of the bears are actually a brown color. The largest black bear ever captured in Yosemite weighed 690 pounds.
Try to make some noise while walking down a isolated trail. That way you won't startle the bear.
Stay at least 50 yards from the bear.
Throw rocks or sticks at the bear. If you are with someone, stand together so you look bigger, more intimidating to the bear. The objective is to scare the bear away and keep you safe.
Camping sites are equipped with bear safe boxes, at night you are forced to put all your food in it! I was very scared of having to face one, bear that is, when i was there but no never did! so I think if you are careful with not letting food lay around, you will be fine
When you visit Yosemite remember that even if you have a few paved roads this is still a wild habitat. It is estimated that somewhere between 300 to 500 black bears call Yosemite home. Black bears are omnivores and will eat almost anything. They spend most of their days foraging for seeds, berries, acorns, and insects and unfortunately, many Yosemite bears have also perfected the skill of obtaining food from humans. Each year some bears must be killed by the park rangers because they have become too aggressive in the search for human food, causing damage to property as well as sometimes injuring tourists. But the bears are not to blame. If you care about your property and park wildlife, do not leave food in your car. In fact, never leave food unattended. Eat it, discard it in one of the bear proof garbage cans provided throughout the park or use a food storage locker also available for public use throughout the park. Also store any scented item in the bear-proof lockers. When Yosemite's bears become accustomed to eating human food and garbage, they will often continue to seek it out and some may even resort to intimidating humans in order to get more. Not to talk about the fact that their role in the park's natural environment is altered. Do not underestimate a bear's intelligence, strength, or reach. Never approach a mother with cubs. She may attack in defense of her young.