You say "Yosemite" and we say "bear." You say "Sierra Nevada weekend" and we say "aren't bears amazing"? You say "national park camp-out" and we say "bears forever, bears rule, yayyyy bears."
Those furry, ambling superstars, in short, are on many an adventuring mind, especially those minds belonging to travelers entering Yosemite National Park for a day or a week or longer. After all, the wild destination's black bear population is as iconic, and as treasured, as Half Dome and Glacier Point and the Merced River and Tuolumne Meadows.
But Glacier Point and Half Dome don't come sniffing around our food-filled coolers after dark, and we humans aren't advised to keep our distance from Tuolumne Meadows.
What to do, where to go and what to see
In short, the way we drive, the way we hike, and the way we store our food, while bedding down for the night, has a way of attracting, and ultimately impacting, the ursine way of life in the national park.
Enter KeepBearsWild.org, a new web site that's all about raising "...awareness, appreciation, and respect for Yosemite's beloved black bears," says Chip Jenkins, the Acting Superintendent of Yosemite National Park.
"Our message is simple: everyone can keep bears wild by driving slowly, storing food properly and staying a safe distance when you see them."
New photos and videos are also a fascinating feature of Yosemite's beardom's new online hangout.
The online partnership between Yosemite National Park and Yosemite Conservancy, an organization that helps to "...fund projects and programs that are essential to Yosemite's future," comes just a few weeks ahead of the famous national park's humming summer season.
A season that could be prone to "bear jams," where a close-to-the-road bear might inspire a long line of drivers to stop, snap photographs, and even exit their cars. (Word on the street, er, from the woods: Don't be that driver.)
A Bear Tracker on KeepBearsWild.org also gives fans of the park an idea as to where bears have recently been spied, though, to protect the safety of the bears, "such as den locations and exact coordinates," the information "...is not shared in real time."
So how many black bears actually hang out the proverbial "Home Sweet Home" sign at the park?
If you guessed somewhere between 300 and 500, you're right in the right neck of the woods. That's a sizable community of bearage, one that can continue to stay robust and healthy in relation to what we visiting non-bears do and don't do while enjoying Yosemite. (Do store food well, don't pedal-to-the-metal it through the park, do give bears pleeeeenty of rambling room should you spy one while out on a hike.)
If you're eager to learn more about the art of "properly" observing bears, and how to let the park know when and where you saw a fine, big-of-paw, handsome-of-mug fellow, KeepBearsWild.org is a great place to start.
And if you're heading to Yosemite over the summer of '17, a site swing-through feels as essential as checking out various campground tips, scenic trails, and local eateries.
After all, we're stepping into the bears' home when we call upon the Big Y, and we do so as, paws crossed, courteous and mindful guests who would never cause a bear jam nor approach a bear going about his or her important business.