Story at a glance
- Many National Parks, including Yosemite, have closed to the public during the coronavirus pandemic.
- With reduced tourist traffic, some animals have become bolder in wandering the parks.
- Bears and coyotes have been sighted around Yosemite Park more often than before the pandemic.
The animals in Yosemite National Park are sheltering in place as well, but they’re finding a lot more space to roam without the usual influx of tourists at this time of year.
“It’s very quiet right now at the park,” Yosemite Conservancy President Frank Dean told Reuters. “It’s an amazing scene where you hear the natural sounds of the river, wildlife and the birds. The wildlife is getting a little bit bolder now because there are few people around.”
Black bears in the park are now coming out of hibernation and Dewan said they have been seen more frequently, being less secretive and more comfortable in their surroundings. Mountain coyotes, which are native to the area, have also made an appearance in recent weeks.
“They are out in the daytime now and they’re not afraid. I mean, they’re just sort of walking by people and walking around, among buildings,” Dean told Reuters, adding, “I think nature is obviously welcoming the change.”
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The national park was closed on March 20 to everyone except residents and authorized employees or contractors. A few weeks later, on April 10, the park superintendent issued an order requiring those allowed in the park to remain inside except for essential activities or exercise in residential districts. About 1,000 people lived in Yosemite Valley, located in Mariposa County, as of the 2010 census, many in Yosemite Village on the north side of the valley floor.
As the country looks to open up its public spaces in the coming months, park officials will have to account for the change in animal behavior as well as remaining health risks to both them and visitors.
“We are trying to anticipate and plan how the park will be when it reopens, because, you know, it won’t be business as usual this summer,” Dean told Reuters.
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