GPS Trackers Follow Bears in Yosemite National Park

Ever wonder what the typical day of a bear is like?

So did the folks at Yosemite National Park. And thanks to $70,000 worth of GPS trackers, now they can find out.

In two days in August, wildlife biologists saw the back-and-forth route of one bear, who traveled from the rocks above Housekeeping Camp, then to Yosemite Lodge, Yosemite Village, Housekeeping Camp, and Lower Pines Campground, before racing up a steep ledge to Glacier Point. After that, the animal made a circuit around Sentinel Dome, then headed down a steep route back to Yosemite Valley, and ending up back where the bear began nearly 48 hours later.

A total of 15 GPS trackers were bought by the Yosemite Conservancy, a nonprofit that benefits the park, and given to the park's wildlife biologists, who are currently tracking eight bears, according to park spokeswoman Kari Cobb. She estimates there are between 300 to 500 bears living in the park at any one time.

So far the trackers are showing biologists where the bears go when they are not in Yosemite Valley, which areas they like to frequent, what they like to eat and how far they are willing to go to find good natural food sources.

Cob said wildlife managers have successfully tracked the movements of black bears in developed areas in Yosemite for over a decade using radio telemetry. However, once a bear leaves a developed area, its movements are difficult to track.

All this information, Cobb said, helps rangers figure out which routes are best suited for wilderness patrols so that park staff can be stationed in the best locations to prevent bears from getting human food.

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