When the Yosemite National Park’s visitors are away, the wildlife will play. It’s been less than a month since national parks around the United States shuttered their gates in an attempt to curb the coronavirus by discouraging large crowds, and already, the animals native to Yosemite National Park are thriving.
“Now that there are no people, the bears are literally just walking down the road to get where they need to go, which is kind of cool to see,” said bear biologist Ranger Katie said in a Facebook live stream from Yosemite over the weekend, adding that she also saw bears “[skipping] along the meadow” before the live stream.
She explained they normally see more visitors than ever in the springtime, with “walls of cars” and “stop-and-go traffic” that they must teach the bears to avoid.
In addition to Ranger Katie and the 100-200 other park service employees that remain, some workers at the Ahwahnee Hotel inside the park are also sheltering in place on Yosemite grounds, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The bear population has quadrupled,” Warren McClain, who works in the hotel’s kitchen, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s not like they aren’t usually here. It’s that they usually hang back at the edges or move in the shadows.”
He said coyotes, bobcats and other animals also seem to be thriving.
It’s not clear when Yosemite National Park intends to re-open to visitors.