RIO RICO, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson News Now has learned a bear digging through trash in a southern Arizona neighborhood has just been captured and relocated. But folks living in the area say a second bear has also moved in.
The bears have been spotted multiple times in the Rio Rico neighborhood.
Arizona Game and Fish said bear sightings in neighborhoods have spiked in the last two weeks in southern Arizona. The department has received a dozen calls about bears during the month of October in Sonoita, Hereford, and Rio Rico.
"The bear, she stood up like this and I couldn't put the car in reverse I was so nervous," Annette Corella said.
Corella and her mother-in-law were stunned to see a large black bear climb over their retaining wall and rip open their trash bags on Tuesday night. Then they saw him head to the fruit tree.
"The bear was eating off the apple tree for two nights in a row," Corella said.
"He was huge. I've never seen a bear here in Rio Rico," Jennifer Toombs said.
Other neighbors living along Camino Providencia saw him too.
"When I left for work this morning, I had my husband walk me to my gate and then I ran across to my carport because I'm afraid. I have three and a half acres," Toombs said.
Although the bear was not acting aggressively, Mark Hart with Arizona Game and Fish, said they worry the bear's dumpster diving activity may escalate, so they tranquilized the bear and moved him to a remote location on Thursday morning. But Hart said only 50 percent of relocations actually work.
"Bears will often travel very long distances, up to one hundred miles to resume the behavior that you moved them for," Hart said.
"It's very possible. It's an imperfect solution but it's preferable to lethal removal," Hart said when asked if it was possible the bear could come back.
Hart said homeowners should not let their guard down as they also believe a female bear may be in the area. As for Corella, she plans to take action to make their yard less attractive for bears.
"We're now thinking about buying trash cans with tops on them and putting them inside the garage," Corella said.
Game and Fish recommends that folks lock up their trash, and clear away fruit that's fallen to the ground. Soon colder weather will get the bears to head up to the high country.