Yosemite's black bears are eating significantly less human food these days, a new study revealed Monday, providing the strong evidence yet that the park's recent efforts to curb human-bear contact are paying off.
The International Business Timesreports that scientists at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) examined chemical isotopes in hair and bone samples in order to determine how much of the bears' diet comes from human sources such as camp kitchens and dumpsters. The researchers found that the percentage of human food has dropped 63% since 1999, when the park adopted stricter Leave No Trace and garbage-control measures. Bears are consuming a greater number of berries and insects instead.
Black bears that develop a taste for human food act more aggressively toward humans and often have to be put down by park rangers. There are an estimated 300 to 500 black bears living in Yosemite.
Here at BACKPACKER, our in-house expert is delighted that his sage advice about food safety is finally sinking in.