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At national parks, rangers ready for reopening as bears are wandering empty roads and tortoises are sunning themselves on tarmac.

In mid-March, many of America’s national parks shut down to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

NBC news reports wildlife quickly moved into the spaces now lacking the traffic jams and noisy hikers that have become a staple of parks across the country.

Bears are grazing in meadows near California’s Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, and elk were undisturbed at the beginning of the spring calving season in Yellowstone National Park.

After 327 million visitors to national parks in 2019, the shutdowns have given the park ecologies a moment to breathe.

That could all be changing soon, however.

On April 22, President Donald Trump called for parks to reopen and, in the past few weeks, various states have begun allowing some businesses to resume service.

The National Park Service, which determines when national parks reopen, is considering each on a case by case basis, according to parks media officer Kathy Kuper.

As protected areas, national parks are not under direct threat of destruction, but experts say bringing millions of people into a previously wild place will always have an impact.

Too many campers in one place will compact the soil and can cause erosion or damage to plants in the area, the noise caused by crowds of people pushes some wildlife far from where they’d normally be found, and cars frequently hit animals on roads built to provide easy access to yet more people.

For the full story by Joe Purtell click here.

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