Changes to Some Opening/Closing Dates for Services and Facilities – Check Back for Updates
Some of the opening/closing dates for facilities and visitor services in the parks have changed due to weather and/or other circumstances. See link for details and match to locations on the park map (under "Park Tools," bottom left, this page). More »
Road Construction Delays (if Entering/Exiting Hwy. 198)
Expect minimal construction delays on main road through parks (Generals Hwy) through June 2013 on weekdays generally from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. See link for schedule. Call for 24-hour road conditions info: 559-565-3341 (press 1, 1, 1). More »
Vehicle Length Limits Have Changed in Sequoia NP (if Entering/Exiting Hwy 198)
Planning to see the "Big Trees" in Sequoia National Park? If you enter/exit via Hwy. 198, please pay close attention to new vehicle length advisories for your safety and the safety of others. More »
You May Have Trouble Calling Us. Use the "Contact Us" Link (Bottom Left) to Send an E-mail.
We are experiencing technical problems receiving some incoming phone calls at the parks. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please keep trying to reach us or check this website for frequently-asked questions. The search box (top, right) may be helpful.
Prescribed Fires Planned at Ash Mountain/Sequoia National Park (Parks' South Entrance)
Fire crews will be working on hazard fuel reduction project at Ash Mountain (south entrance) starting May 23. There are nine small burn segments near the south entrance. The fire may be visible from the road and will produce smoke for very short periods.
The Death of #583
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He probably started his life close to where it ended.
Most likely he was one of two blind ten-ounce cubs, born to a mother who was fast asleep in the rotted base of a large fir tree. The next year and a half were spent with his mother, learning to forage for what nature provided here: winter-killed carrion, spring's green meadow grasses, the yellowjackets and ants of summer, acorns and berries in the fall.
By his second spring, the mother would have driven him away to fend for himself. It was time for her to get on with the business of producing another healthy cub, and for him to grow to maturity in the solitude normal to adult bears.
It was that same spring that he discovered human food. He might have found it first along a trail or in a parking lot, perhaps right next to a bear-resistant garbage can where someone had missed the bin. Food may have been left on a picnic table.
He was just 100 pounds and very cute when he was first trapped in June—a scraggly, lanky adolescent. It must have been hard for people to resist feeding him. Early that month he was spotted at a dumpster. The problem was recognized and cleaned up, but #583 had already learned: Where humans are, so is easy food.
Reports of his feeding habits, and at least one aggressive move, led to his trapping. His captor, wildlife biologist Dianne Ingram, weighed him and put a colorful tag in his ear for easy identification, which gave him the name #583. He was released, but because he was a "problem bear," she also fitted him with a radio collar that let biologists follow his movements.
Dianne's assistant, Cindy Schultz, spent many hours radio-tracking #583, chasing the young bear away from trouble, throwing rocks and yelling. She talked to people about how to keep food away from bears, and the importance of doing it right.
In July #583 knocked down a man as the bear ran from a building he had entered in search of food. He later bluff-charged a woman and child, coming within five feet of them before turning away. He went in a restaurant kitchen and took food even though a person was there. There were many other incidents, despite Cindy's efforts.
Bears are not destroyed just for finding garbage or stealing food, but aggressive or extremely destructive behavior is the last straw. Even a small bear can do tremendous harm to a person if it is frightened or aggressive. Every relocation of a problem bear within these parks has failed; the bears either returned to their territories or died. Zoos cannot take these wilderness misfits. So the order was signed to destroy #583.
Dianne knew his patterns. He typically began his foraging by 9 p.m., when truly wild bears are beginning to bed down for the night. Bears that have become habituated to human foods adopt activity patterns that mirror those of people. Preferring to avoid the humans themselves, they wait until people go to sleep, then get up and take advantage of what's been left behind. The youngster's radio collar told the story; by 8:15 p.m. he was up and moving.
At 8:45 p.m. Dianne intercepted him, fired a dart rifle, and trailed him for ten minutes until the drug took effect and he fell asleep. By then night had fallen. With the help of three other employees she rolled #583 onto a stretcher and they carried him back to the truck, trying not to stumble on the dark trail.
After a short drive to a secluded area, Dianne and another biologist took the bear from the truck, laid him on the ground, and shot him through the head. They knelt to take off his ear tag and collar, then pushed his body over a steep embankment. His final resting place was the only natural thing about his death.
Destruction of a bear is quiet. "During the procedure you're very focused and careful," says Dianne. "You're dealing with rifles and ammunition and a very hazardous drug. Afterwards there's no talking. You just pack up your gear and get in the car."
After an unhappy silence, Dianne says, the "if only" discussion begins. "We say, 'If only he hadn't gotten that first taste. If only we could reach people all the time to tell them about food and bears.' And we search for ways to improve our efforts."
A few months from now, when winter's snow starts to fall, the bears will again go to their dens. Come January, another generation of tiny blind cubs will be born. Nature, in her generosity, will give us another chance to keep them wild.
Article by Malinee Crapsey, NPS
Did You Know?
Sequoia National Park is the second-oldest national park in the United States. It was created by Congress on September 25, 1890. General Grant National Park (the area now called Grant Grove), was designated soon after. Only Yellowstone National Park, created in 1872, is older. More...