The bear activity in Yosemite National Park has surged since the park has enacted limited visitation numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic. With less human traffic, bears have enjoyed much more space to move around within the parameters of the national park.
But with less traffic and more opportunities for cars to speed around the roads, four bears were hit by cars in July, with two of the bears dying from the accidents. It’s a stark reminder to drive slowly and watch out for wildlife while in the outdoors.
The accidents were caused by people speeding above the 25 mph speed limit in the park, and the injuries to the two bears who survived were seen limping off into the wilderness. The extent of their injuries will never be known.
The National Park Service estimates that over 400 bears have been hit by cars in Yosemite dating back to 1995. Roadside signs are in place throughout Yosemite with a simple message that reads, “Speeding Kills Bears.” The signs mark the locations of bears where they have been hit by a vehicle this year, or where bears have been frequently hit in previous years.
For Yosemite officials, there’s one action that can significantly reduce bear fatalities due to cars in the park: SLOW DOWN. If you do hit an animal while in Yosemite and need immediate ranger response, you can report it to the park’s emergency communication center at (209) 379-1992, or by leaving a message on the Save-A-Bear Hotline at (209) 372-0322 if you believe that the animal is uninjured. You may also use the Save-A-Bear Hotline number to report non-urgent bear observations.