In the past week, our tours have seen several different Black Bears (which are usually colored light to medium brown). As you may know, in Eastern North America where Ursus americanus was first named, their colors are mostly black to dark brown, hence their common name, “Black Bears.” The common name, “Brown Bear” is usually reserved for the grizzly bear. Although it is pictured on the California state flag, the last one in the wild in California was shot and killed in 1922.
Most often we see bears adjacent to the Glacier Point Road, but there was also a dark brown yearling, limping near one of our mini-talk sites down in Yosemite Valley. One of its rear legs was obviously quite painful. I got no picture of that little one…
With the advent of the first really hot weather of summer, the bears seem to be much more visible during the daylight hours of our tours. One day, we even saw the same bear both going to Glacier Point and on the return trip from there.
Sometimes other vehicles completely block the road, wanting so badly to see and watch the bears. We don’t stop unless there is a safe and legal place to park off the road. Even then, we don’t approach a bear while it is foraging. They are actually very shy and we rarely get good portraits of their faces; more often, we get pictures of their other end or of them walking along logs, sniffing for the ant and termite nests which are their principle sources of non-plant foods.