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Wildlife sees positive change amid National Park closures

Posted at 6:52 AM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 16:18:19-04

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif — Amid the pandemic, national parks have been looking a lot different without any visitors around. Yosemite National Park closed in the middle of March, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon came soon after. Since then some of them have been seeing some things a little out of place.

As is evident by a video taken by a park ranger at Yosemite, bears are being seen more frequently than usual. The park has been closed over a month now, so officials believe it’s likely due to the absence of visitors. But it’s not only bears. Deer have been seen feeding in developed areas of the park, and this coyote taking a rest in the middle of an empty parking lot.

So what about the parks that are just a short trek up from Kern County, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks? Have they seen a similar change in wildlife behavior?

“We’ve been getting that question a lot and we have not. You know, there’s still a lot of snow so we’re in the earliest stage of spring right now," Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, Pubic Affairs Officer at Sequoia and Kings National Parks.

But one difference has been seen across the country. The National Park Service’s biological resource division telling ABC News that vehicle wildlife deaths are down across the board. The NPS saying vehicle deaths usually have a big impact on the viability of a species. Sequoia and Kings Canyon said another reason why they may not be noticing an increase in wildlife activity is that they themselves haven’t been driving through the park as much.

“So we may be missing out on all the fun," Kawasaki-Yee said.

Although Sequoia and Kings Canyon are closed to visitors, the parks are posting updates on social media. It’s not known when the parks will reopen, but until then, they’ll be keeping an eye out for wildlife.

“Maybe in the next few weeks we’ll see something really fun and interesting," Kawasaki-Yee said.