Headed to a National Park? Remember: don't feed the bears

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KFSN) -- From natural wonders to majestic wildlife, California's National Parks have plenty to offer.

But just as the raging rivers and giant slabs of granite come with their own warnings, Park Rangers at Sequoia and Kings Canyon want to remind folks not to feed the bears.

"We try and keep human food away from bears because they can change their personality if they have too much human food," said bear technician Sandy Herrera.

Visitors to Sequoia and Kings Canyon are reporting more bear sightings these days.

Rangers estimate there could be up to 800 Black Bears roaming the area searching for food.

Action News found a mama bear along with her cubs going for a stroll just off of Highway 180 near Cedar Grove.

"She's wearing a collar so we can track her through a radio transmitter and we can track where she is," Herrera said.

Park service officials say when people feed bears, intentional or not, the animals become accustomed to being around humans, and in the process, are more likely to destroy property or injure people.

"It can be dangerous because they allow humans to get closer to them," Herrera said. "And that's where we start seeing injuries like scratches or accidentally getting bit."

Up to 200 incidents involving bears and humans are reported each year between Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

Rangers recommend storing your food away. Every campsite within the National Parks comes with a bear box.

"When you camp here you want to put your food away," Herrera said. "You want to put away scented items because (bears) are very curious animals so they will come and check out what that smell is that they're noticing."

Keeping your distance is the best way to appreciate bears and other wildlife. Rangers say close contact with the animals all too often leads to trouble.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.