SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, California (KGPE) – There have been five different reports in just one week of bears approaching people in popular camping areas along the Rae Lakes Loop of the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.
“That behavior is very aggressive for black bears. The kind of black bears that live here in Sequoia Kings Canyon and typically that means that they have already been successful in the past of acquiring food from people,” said Rebecca Paterson with Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.
Visitors should be aware that bears finding food or leftovers at a campsite can become used to it and often come back for more. Campers need to be aware of a possible close encounter.
“It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the bad thing is not going to happen to you. The bears are definitely out there and they are looking for unattended food. So it is something that people need to be taking very seriously this summer.”
If rules are ignored and bears obtain food, it could put campers in danger and also endanger the life of intruding bears.
“It’s very hard to return that bear to natural, wild behavior where they want nothing to do with people and are getting all of their food from natural sources and so the more aggressive a bear gets, the more likely it is that they may have to be euthanized to protect the people in those areas.”
The number of visitors coming to the parks is already up more than 20% from previous years before the pandemic. Park officials say it’s only going to get busier – and making noise can be a good bear deterrent.
“If a bear is being aggressive with you, then stand your ground, put your hands up in the air and say ‘go away, bear!'”
Park officials ask you always use food storage canisters and close them when not in use, use proper trash receptacles, and take your trash out of the park with you.