California’s Yosemite National Park has seen an abundance of wildlife reclaim the area as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps the normally bustling throngs of tourists away.
The park has been closed since March 20 in an effort to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading in the 7.5-mile valley. All that remains is a small crew of park service employees.
April is normally the start of a busy tourist season – with some 308,000 tourists having visited in that month alone last year, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In their absence, wildlife has come out to explore areas where they are seldom seen. Bobcats and coyotes prowl empty roads and walkways, while the “bear population has quadrupled,” according to one worker at Ahwahnee Hotel.
“It’s not like they aren’t usually here,” Dane Peterson told the Times. “It’s that they usually hang back at the edges, or move in the shadows.”
The near lack of diesel or exhaust has made the air cleaner, with the valley is almost totally silent except for the sound of river water and wind.
Officials over the weekend declared the area free of coronavirus cases, although social distancing was still being practicing at a local grocery store and only 10 people are allowed in at a time, the Times reported.
Some say the park’s current condition is probably similar to what visitors in the 19th century witnessed, when fewer tourists frequented the grounds.
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