Wildlife is reclaiming their homes in national parks across the US, as humans are banned from visiting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pronghorn antelopes are roaming in the lowlands of Death Valley, the population of black bears has quadrupled in Yosemite and bobcats and deer are congregating around buildings and roadways.
However, parts of the US have begun to reopen, leaving officials to wonder what is in store for these wild creatures once parks are teeming with visitors.
Researchers have offered up solutions that include moving the animals to safe locations away from people or limiting the amount of visitors allowed in each day.
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Pronghorn antelopes (pictured)are roaming in the lowlands of Death Valley, the population of black bears has quadrupled in Yosemite and bobcats and deer are congregating around buildings and roadways
Earlier this month, officials at Death Valley national park, located in California, spotted a pronghorn antelope basking in the sun at lower levels of the park – a display that has never been seen before, The Guardian reports.
Kati Schmidt, a spokesperson for the National Parks Conservation Association, told The Guardian: ‘This is something we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.’
‘We’ve known they’re in some of the higher elevation areas of Death Valley but as far as we’re aware they’ve never been documented this low in the park, near park headquarters.’
The rare sighting is just one of many since national parks across the US closed their gates two months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, officials at Death Valley national park (pictured), located in California, spotted a pronghorn antelope basking in the sun at lower levels of the park – a display that has never been seen before
Yosemite National Park has also seen its fair share of wildlife that that usually sits in the corridors of the forest.
More than 730,000 people flock to the park starting in March through May and many travel through the area by car.
However, Yosemite closed its doors on March 20 until further notice in a statement that reads: ‘The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Yosemite National Park is our number one priority.’
‘The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.’
Ranger Katie, a biologist who’s worked with black bears for over a decade, said in a Facebook live stream video that the animals are now having a ‘party’ since humans have been barred from visiting.
There can be literally walls of cars, stop-and-go traffic or people in the park,’ she said.
An influx of coyotes, bobcats and bears that usually sit in the ‘corridors’ of the forest but have been spotted throughout Yosemite village. The population of black bears (pictured) in the open valley has also quadrupled since the park closed March 20
Healthy bobcats are congregating around buildings and along roadways now that they do not feel threatened by humans
‘So, for the bears, they normally have to pick through these little corridors that they have to move through in the valley to get from Point A to Point B. … Now, that there are no people the bears are literally just walking down the road to get to where they need to go, which is kind of cool to see.’
Park rangers have also witnessed healthy-looking coyotes and bobcats also hanging around the cabins and apartments of employees who live on the park grounds.
Dane Peterson, who works in Yosemite Village, said: ‘The bear population has quadrupled.’
‘It’s not like they aren’t usually here.’
‘It’s that they usually hang back at the edges, or move in the shadows.’
Similar sightings have been reported in in other national parks including Rocky Mountain, in Colorado, and Yellowstone, located in Wyoming.
Yosemite National Park (pictured) has also seen its fair share of wildlife that that usually sits in the corridors of the forest. More than 730,000 people flock to the park starting in March through May and many travel through the area by car
Now, parts of the US have begun their re-opening phases in order to bring back normalcy to the country and reignite the economy – leaving park officials to work on their own reopening plan for the parks.
Pomona College professor Dr. Char Miller told LAMag: ‘If I were a park ranger, what I’d be worried about, is that the longer that the bears, for example, are aware that this is now their space again.’
‘They’re not going to be happy when we come back.
‘So I would imagine that bear-human interactions will be rough for a period of time.’
Miller explains that killing the creatures is not an option, but the best strategy would be to move them to safety away from humans.
‘Which is kind of ironic given these spaces are supposed to be preserved for nature and we just visit,’ he said.
Another part of the intricate plan could be closing the gates after a certain amount of people have entered the park.
Parks could also reduce the number of days and hours they are open to the public, as well as cut off access to certain areas that are known to have the most wildlife.
‘If the goal is really to protect these natural spaces as they seem to have been at another time, then I would slow the numbers down,’ said Miller.
‘And it’s very easy to do. You just drop the gate.’
Source: dailymail US