YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Officials are urging motorists to slow down while driving through Yosemite National Park after at least four bears were hit by cars in the park in the last three weeks, at least two of which were killed.
The two black bears that survived were hit by drivers going faster than the 25 mph speed limit and were seriously injured and limping. Park officials said they will never know the severity of their injuries.
“It is important to remember that while traveling in the park, the posted speed limits are not only there to protect people, but to also protect wildlife in areas where animals cross roads,” the Yosemite Bear Team said.
Following posted speed limits may also save the life of endangered species that call the park home, like a great gray owl as it flies across the road, or a Pacific fisher as it runs across the road. Slowing down could also prevent drivers from hitting a bear eating berries on the side of the road, or a deer crossing with its fawn.
“While traveling through Yosemite, try to remember that we are all visitors in the home of countless animals, and it is up to you to follow the rules that are put in place to protect them,” the bear team said.
Signs along park roads that say, “Speeding Kills Bears” with the image of a red bear indicate the locations of bears where they have been hit by a vehicle this year, or where bears have been frequently hit in previous years.
Officials said that 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.