It seems that the cruel hand of fate really wants the forests and meadows of Yosemite National Park to become a charred ruin, and is using every means at its disposal to try and make that happen.
The latest weapon in fate's arsenal: goddamn bears.
According to federal officials, crews fighting wildfires in Yosemite now have to contend with the marauding black bears while they struggle to get the upper hand on the lightning-sparked Meadow Fire that has already burned nearly 5,000 acres immediately east of the park's iconic Half Dome in the Little Yosemite Valley.
The blaze actually began on July 19th, and had been allowed to burn as part of the forest's natural burn cycle—but a recent stretch of hot, windy days allowed it to spread dramatically almost overnight, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of hikers and climbers around the Half Dome area just last weekend.
Now, firefighters—in addition to lugging hundreds of pounds of gear up and down steep terrain through thick brush and smoke—have to worry about swarms of hungry bears attacking and making off with their pic-a-nik baskets.
Extensive measures are being taken not to attract bears to the food and other supplies. Trash is being backhauled daily.
Experts say that there are anywhere from 300 to 500 of the omnivorous Ursus americanus roaming the Yosemite backcountry—and in a prime example of nature taking a "Fuck you, humans!" approach to how a species adapts to changes in their environment—they have become adept over the years at prying open supposedly bear-proof trash cans and breaking into cars to get food.
The black bears in Yosemite, unlike the much smaller black bears elsewhere in the nation, can grow up to 650 pounds—which when you think about it could make for a particularly gripping straight-to-Netflix shitshow: a fire tornado sucks up a bunch of huge, ravenous bears, and there's a big, gory fight between the burning, spinning bears and firefighters armed with chainsaws. Firebearnado©!
In the meantime, authorities say that a return of hotter and drier air after a brief respite is making fighting the blaze more difficult, but the valley's steep granite outcroppings are helping to contain the fire to the immediate area.
Image via AP