Bear Incident at Sequoia National Park and Bear Safety Tips

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Date: June 17, 2015
Contact: Dana M. Dierkes, 559-565-3131

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, CA--On Wednesday, June 17, at 7:30 a.m., a park visitor stopped at the Ash Mountain Entrance Station in Sequoia National Park to report an incident involving a bear and a camper at Potwisha Campground. (Potwisha Campground is located 4 miles from the primary entrance to Sequoia National Park along the Generals Highway.) According to reports, a bear nudged a man in a sleeping bag at a campsite in Potwisha Campground at approximately 6:30 a.m. The man woke up. The bear stepped on the man, who ran away from the bear. The bear followed him, then turned around to grab the man's sleeping bag and drag it to the edge of the campsite. Other campers stated that they banged pots and pans to scare the bear away. The man, a 25-year-old from Santa Cruz, CA, sustained minor injuries—lacerations to his back and a puncture wound. The individual refused further medical care by park staff. Currently, park staff is trying to locate the bear. Notices have been posted and campers contacted at Potwisha and Buckeye Flat campgrounds. Campground patrols have been increased. The incident is under investigation.

Superintendent Woody Smeck of Sequoia and Kings Canyon said, "Black bears in our national parks are wild, beautiful animals." Smeck added, "We ask visitors to admire them from a safe distance and to secure food and other scented items."

The following safety tips will help you reduce the risk of a bear-related incident or break-in:

Everyone: Bears that have been able to get human food in the past can become bold and sometimes aggressive around people. Never leave any food or scented item in cars where brown metal food-storage boxes are provided in the parks. (You may be fined if you do not store these items properly.) Don't let bears approach you or your food, picnic area, or campsite. Wave your arms, make loud noises, and throw small rocks toward them (--avoid hitting the face or head). Keep a safe distance but be persistent. Easily abandoning your food teaches bears that it is acceptable to approach people; it may hurt someone in the future. If a bear does get food, however, never try to take it back.

Backpackers: Hanging food often fails! Store all food in a portable container. Less than 3 pounds, it holds up to 5-day's food for one and fits in a pack. Metal boxes in a few wilderness locations offer backup storage. Rent/buy a container at visitor centers or markets.

Campers: Store food day and night in the metal boxes provided at each campsite (avoid bringing coolers that won't fit;most boxes are 47" long x 33" deep x 28" high.) Store ALL food, coolers, related items, and anything with an odor (even non-food) —including unopened cans and bottles. Latch the box completely. Food not stored properly will be impounded. Where boxes are not provided, seal food to reduce odors, cover it well, and close the windows. Keep a clean campsite. Deposit garbage immediately in bear-proof containers or store it like food. Take baby seats out of cars;the smells they absorb may attract bears.

Picnickers: Never move away from coolers and tables when food is out. Stay within arm's length of food.

Lodge Guests: Remove food from your vehicles.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which lie-side-by-side in the southern Sierra Nevada in central California, serve as a prime example of nature's size, beauty, and diversity. Over 1.5 million visitors from across the U.S. and the world visit these parks for the world's largest trees (by volume), grand mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, the highest point in the lower 48 states, and more! Learn more at or 559-565-3341.

Last updated: June 18, 2015

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47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271


(559) 565-3341

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