Bears Smell You
Driven by their powerful sense of smell, black bears are drawn to human food. Once they get it, they continue to seek it out--from backpacks, picnic tables, ice chests, and even cars. As their natural fear of people fades, they may become aggressive. In 1997, bears caused over $580,000 in property damage during their pursuit of human food and garbage. The only way to stop this devastating cycle is to make sure that all food items and trash are stored properly.

In Campgrounds
• Never leave food unattended in a picnic area or campsite.
• Food and related food supplies, including ice chests, must be stored in bear boxes 24 hours a day. Bears have entered campsites and picnic areas during the day, even when people were present.
• Keep a clean camp. Put trash in bear-proof cans and dumpsters regularly.
• Bears recognize ice chests and grocery bags, so store them as if they were food, even when empty. Also store drinks, garbage, and scented articles such as soap, sunscreen, and toothpaste.
• Do not leave any food, food-related supplies, or items with an odor in your vehicle overnight!

Bear Safety
Never approach a bear, regardless of its size. If you encounter a bear, act immediately: throw small stones or sticks toward the bear from a safe distance. Yell, clap hands, bang pots together. If there is more than one person, stand together to present a more intimidating figure, but do not surround the bear. Use caution if you see cubs, as a mother may act aggressively to defend them. Never try and retrieve anything once a bear has it.

Nobody has been killed by a bear in California since 1875.


Lions Are Lions
Mountain lion sightings and encounters have increased throughout Yosemite over the past several years. The lions are an important part of the park ecosystem, helping to keep deer and other prey populations in check. Although lion attacks are rare, they are possible, as is injury from any wild animal.


  • Avoid walking alone.
  • Store food according to park regulations.
  • Do not leave pets or pet food outside and unattended, especially at dawn and dusk.
Lion Safety
  • Never approach a mountain lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation. Always give them a way to escape.
  • Don't run. Stay calm. Hold your ground, or back away slowly. Face the lion and stand upright. Do all you can to appear larger. Grab a stick. Raise your arms.
  • If the lion behaves aggressively, wave your arms, shout and throw objects at it. The goal is to convince it that you are not prey and may be dangerous yourself.
  • If attacked, fight back!

Generally, mountain lions are calm, quiet, and elusive. The chance of being attacked by a mountain lion is quite low compared to may other natural hazards. There is, for example, a far greater risk of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a mountain lion.