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Wawona’s Yesterdays (1961) by Shirley Sargent


WILDLIFE

Today’s Wawona campers probably will see deer and squirrels, maybe a porcupine, raccoon, fox, wildcat, bear, coyote, or beaver and, rarely, a mountain lion.

Frequently beavers have been observed building dams in the small creek that cuts through the golf course only yards distant from the present highway.

The Wawona area was a private “island” in Yosemite until 1932, and as such was good hunting grounds for Indians and white men. Jay C. Bruce, son of a Wawona settler and State Lion Hunter for 28 years, estimates that he shot 40 mountain lions, 40 wildcats and 11 black bears around Wawona between 1915 and 1932. 39

Two grizzly bears were killed near Wawona in the late 1800’s. One skin, roughly eight by five, hung in Hill’s Studio from 1887 until 1918 when the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California purchased it. 44

Now, it is kept in a refrigerated room for “long time preservation.” 45

Many men visiting Yosemite are interested, almost obsessively, in one thing—fishing! John L. Murphy, early-day guide, was the first to anticipate this popular, recreational demand by stocking Tenaya Lake in 1878. 31

In 1895, the Washburns established fish hatchery 3 at Wawona where a Big Creek empties into the South Fork of the Merced. It was operated by the State and, each spring for ten years, Army troopers distributed thousands of trout in the streams, rivers and lakes of Yosemite National Park.

The hatchery was torn down in 1933 by the CCC 46 after it had been succeeded by a larger one in Yosemite Valley which in turn was superseded in 1957 by the fish hatcheries at Moccasin Creek and the San Joaquin. 47

Today’s fishermen owe thanks to these State Hatcheries that plant over a million fingerlings a year in Yosemite, and to the tireless troopers who first distributed the breeding stock which has had much to do with the present fish population in the Yosemite back country.


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