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Urgent Season for Bear Cubs Safety Along Yosemite’s Tioga Road

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Motorists are advised to adhere to the speed limits as a measure to reduce incidents of bear fatalities.

Tuolumne Meadows female bear and cubs. Credit: Irene Reti

For the past few years, a female bear residing in Tuolumne Meadows has admirably guided her cubs through their crucial first year of life.

Now, as winter looms and the seasonal closure of Tioga Road approaches, these cubs are on the verge of successfully navigating a challenging and perilous six-month journey. This bear family, to the best of our knowledge, traverses Tioga Road daily, at times even crossing it multiple times within a single day.

Every time they approach and cross the road, they place their fate in the hands of us, the human drivers, who, regrettably, often speed by, oblivious to the potential presence of wildlife in their path.

Distressingly, 14 bears have fallen victim to car accidents this year alone.

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Tuolumne Meadows female bear and cubs. Credit: Irene Reti
Wildlife rangers maintain a dual-sided ‘Speeding kills bears’ sign. These are placed in locations where vehicles have hit wildlife. Credit: Irene Reti

Reasons to Take Caution

Tragically, only last week, a yearling bear fell victim to a fatal collision near Yosemite Creek drainage along Tioga Road. This incident underscores the critical nature of the remaining months while the road remains open for these two courageous cubs and their protective mother. Furthermore, the countless other creatures, both large and small, that must navigate Tioga Road.

These months are pivotal for their survival. Especially considering that black bear cubs already face daunting odds in their first year of life. Moreover, even without the looming threat of speeding vehicles. In general, approximately one-quarter of black bear cubs do not survive their first year. With an additional third succumbing within the following two years.

Few scenes rival the enchantment of a mother bear and her playful cubs foraging in one of the Sierra Nevada’s most expansive high-elevation meadows. Even if these bears remain unseen, the mere knowledge of their existence in the untamed wilderness is a compelling reason to champion their preservation.

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Tuolumne Meadows female bear and cubs. Credit: Irene Reti
Tuolumne Meadows female bear and cubs. Credit: Irene Reti

When visiting Yosemite, we kindly urge you to adhere to posted speed limits on all roadways. Additionally, exercise heightened caution during the dawn and dusk hours when wildlife is most active and visibility is limited. Your vigilant efforts are essential in contributing to the ongoing conservation of black bears and wildlife. Not only within Yosemite but also in the broader context of our natural world.

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Wrap Up

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Overall, as visitors to Yosemite, we hold the collective responsibility to drive within the posted speed limits on all our roads. Particularly during the dawn and dusk hours when wildlife is most active and visibility is limited. In doing so, we actively contribute to the continued safeguarding of black bears. As well as the diverse wildlife that calls Yosemite home. Our shared commitment extends not only within the boundaries of this remarkable park but also to the broader context of preserving the natural world. Together, we can make a significant difference in ensuring the well-being of these magnificent creatures and their habitats, both in Yosemite and beyond.

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