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Bears are out and about in the Central Sierra

By Guy McCarthy The Union Democrat It?s springtime in the Central Sierra and black bears are on the move, especially in Yosemite National Park. ?Most of the park is melting out,? Katie Patrick, a National Park Service wildlife biologist with the Bear Management Program in Yosemite since 2008, said Monday. ?We have signs and smells of spring and with that we are seeing signs of bear activity across the park.? People are seeing adult bears and cubs, they?re seeing bear tracks, and they?re seeing movement tracked by global positioning system collars worn by some bears in Yosemite, Patrick said. Thanks to the GPS collars, staff with Yosemite National Park and Yosemite Conservancy have been able to launch a website that shows movement of bears, as well as locations where bears have been hit by vehicles. Last year, 28 bears were hit by vehicles in Yosemite and six of those incidents resulted in bears being killed on impact. The bear fatalities included at least one adult female, which resulted in three orphan cubs. In 2015, 37 bears were struck by vehicles. The new website is KeepBearsWild.org and its primary goal is to protect bears in Yosemite. Biologists estimate there are 300 to 500 black bears in the park and right now most of them are out and about getting exercise, except those who chose

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to winter at elevations up to 9,000 and 10,000 feet. ?So some bears may be still denning now,? Patrick said. ?There?s no food for them up there in the snow and it?s difficult to get around.? Black bears dine on berries, acorns, pine cones, carcasses left by other predators and live fish, Patrick said. They follow their food sources seasonally, so right now they?re active at elevations where most of the snow has melted. They may move to higher elevations as more vegetation becomes available. In spite of their name, most of Yosemite?s black bears are brown. Bear facts Adult male black bears are typically 200 to 300 pounds each. Adult females can weigh 150 to Local and Rural Routes Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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250 pounds, and yearlings are 30 to 100 pounds. Cubs can weigh a couple pounds to 30 pounds. ?Bears mate in the summer, normally around June,? Patrick said. ?We see big males following the females around. They mate with probably multiple partners. It goes both ways, for the males and females.? For female black bears, their fertilized eggs don?t implant until fall, when their bodies determine if they?ve gained enough weight, ?if they have enough resources in their bodies to become pregnant and give birth and be able to nurse their young,? Patrick said. If the female bear is too skinny, the bear will not become pregnant, the egg will be released. Healthy, well-fed females See BEARS / Page 4 174881 051717s

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