Protect your snacks from wandering bears, Yosemite Park Rangers warn winter hikers

Black bear tasting snow
(Image credit: Getty)

Rangers at Yosemite National Park have warned hikers to make sure all food is kept well away from bears during the winter months. Although the park's bears mostly hibernate through the cold months, they occasionally wake and leave their dens in search of a meal, and if there's enough food available, some will stay active right the way through.

In a Facebook post (opens in new tab), the National Park Service (NPS) explained the importance of staying vigilant even when bears are less active. "It’s unclear whether they appreciate Yosemite Falls in the same manner that we do this time of year, but we certainly do know that they’ll enjoy your lunch, perhaps more so than you, if they can get to it," the NPS wrote.

As usual, you should keep anything that smells interesting out of sight during your vehicle during the day, and either inside your hotel room or in a bear-proof container overnight. Put your garbage in a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster if one is available, or pack it out and store it away if there isn't come available.

Close encounters of the furred kind

If you're lucky enough to spot a bear during your winter visit, make sure you stay at least 50 yards away. If you can't back up, or the bear approaches you, try to scare it away by shouting loudly and aggressively. For more advice on staying safe, see our guide what to do if you meet a bear.

If you encounter a bear, you should report it to the NPS on 209/372-0322. If the animal is lingering in a built-up area, or trying to access human food, call 911.

Food conditioning (where a wild animal starts to see humans as an easy source of food) is a serious problem, and dangerous for both people and bears. If a bear loses its natural wariness around humans, it's more likely to have a close encounter with a person that could result in injury. Bears that attack people are usually euthanized, even if they only reacted because they were startled.

"These practices encourage our bears to have longer, healthier lives," says the NPS. "You can read more about food storage policies here: www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bears.htm (opens in new tab)."

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).