Upset that a black bear snuck onto your campsite and ate all your food? Don’t blame the black bear; the fault is now being directly placed upon us. You heard it right, humans are to blame for our bears making human food a part of their diet. However, this diet has been drastically decreasing.
According to a new research study from the University of California, Santa Cruz, that is set to be published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, scientists have studied the Yosemite Park black bear population, analyzing chemical isotopes in their hair and bone samples, determining how much food of ours they eat.
In 1999, the park implemented a strategy to keep human food out of the grasp of bears, including buying bear-resistant food-storage containers, hiring staff to manage “problem bears” and organizing a team to educate visitors on how to store their food when they camp. The study proves that these measures have resulted in more than a 60 percent reduction in how much human food the Yosemite Bears eat.
“The remarkable thing is that the bears that eat human food are now back to the same level of Dumpster diving as in 1915, despite the fact that there are now millions of visitors in Yosemite every year and presumably a lot more garbage,” said Koch, UCSC’s dean of physical and biological sciences.
After analyses, they found that only 13 percent of the food-reliant black bears still continue to remain reliant on human food. This rate is a similar figure to early days of the park. This also suggests that park official’s massive initiative ended up being beneficial.
“Reducing the amount of food on the ground and making sure visitors are compliant with food storage has led to this management success. It appears that management that is related to preventing bears from becoming too conditioned to food in the first place is one of the best things to put money into,” said lead study author Jack Hopkins, a wildlife ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz to Live Science.