AZ Game and Fish deciding how to deal with increasingly aggressi - Tucson News Now

AZ Game and Fish deciding how to deal with increasingly aggressive nuisance bear

(Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department) (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department are trying to figure out how to deal with a nuisance bear after it charged three hikers on Saturday, Oct. 15 in Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains.

The bear came within five to ten feet of the hikers, more than two miles up the Old Baldy Trail. 

“The escalating behavior of this bear is a clear and present danger to public safety, and requires a proactive management response by us,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of the Arizona Game and Fish Department in Tucson in a press release. “The hikers Saturday feared for their lives, and their yelling at the bear as it charged may have averted tragedy.  Hikers should not return to the area until this issue is resolved."

The trail had just been reopened after reports of a nuisance bear prompted its closure.

Earlier this month, the 200-pound Black bear was spotted three separate times, according to officials with the Arizona Game & Fish Department.

[READ: Nuisance bear reported in Madera Canyon]

One hiker told AZGFD officials that she was resting under a tree when she was startled by the bear growling above her. She got away, but the bear ate food out of her pack. 

Two days later, there was a report of the bear getting extremely close to a hiker. 

Just two days after that, a group of hikers saw the bear rear up on its hind legs. 

Officials made the decision to close the Old Baldy Trail and Super Trail due to the bear activity. 

[READ: Increased bear activity temporarily closes 2 trails in the Santa Rita Mountains]

As a result, those closures have been extended for 30 days until Nov. 16. 

The trails are popular with birders. 

AZGFD officials are now working on a solution to the bear problem. 

The area is too remote to put a trap on the trail, and officials worry tranquilizing the bear may cause it to run, or spread the danger to other trails since it is already aggressive toward humans. 

Officials say the best option may be to euthanize the animal. 

The U.S. Forest Service wants to remind anyone who visits any national forests to avoid contact with wildlife if possible.  

If a bear is seen in the distance, hikers should change their route; if approached by a bear, hikers should discourage contact with the animal by looking as large and imposing as possible.  

This can be done by waving their arms or a jacket, making loud noises, and giving the bear the chance to leave the area. 

If the animal does not leave after these attempts, you should remain calm, face the animal, and then slowly back away.  Running is not recommended, according to the U.S. Forest Service, neither is playing dead around a bear.  

Bear sightings should be reported immediately to Arizona Game and Fish Department at 623-236-7201, 24-hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

Black bears usually avoid people, but are attracted to human food and trash.  

Campers are encouraged to be “bear aware” by doing to following:

  • Maintain a clean camp or picnic site.
  • Keep food items in airtight containers, and discard of fruit and scraps properly.
  • Stow food, pet food, trash and picnic coolers out of sight and out of smell-range of bears.
  • Utilize bear-proof food and trash receptacles where provided.
  • Wash and stow cooking utensils immediately following use.
  • Do not take odorous items (toothpaste, lotions, etc.) or clothing used while cooking into tents.
  • Keep pets leashed.
  • Avoid contact with bears and other wildlife.

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