Rio Rico bear may have to be put down

Rio Rico bear may have to be put down

RIO RICO, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A bear which has been seen multiple times in a Rio Rico, Arizona neighborhood, may have to be put down.

The bear was captured and relocated in early November, but returned to the area this past week.

When a bear returns after being relocated, it is then considered a nuisance animal and procedures call for killing it to protect people.

The bear is a young male, about 250 pounds. Full gown black bears can reach 350 pounds.

It was spotted twice on November 18 in the 1000 block of Via Margarita which is a rural neighborhood west of Interstate 19.

"If we find him in the neighborhood we're probably going to have to tranquilize him or shoot him out right if it can be done safely," said Mark Hart, a spokesperson for Arizona Game and Fish. "Public safety is a real concern at this point."

Bear behavior is very unpredictable and there is concern residents may approach the bear to take photographs.

Hart says he believes the black bear is afraid of people and could be easily spooked.

"It could charge and attack," he said.

Residents in all of Rio Rico are being asked told to keep their garbage inside until pick-up day.

The bear has become habituated to garbage which is likely why it returned in just a week after being relocated.

Guy Ruggiero lives in the neighborhood where the bear was last seen and is taking the threat seriously.

When asked whether he approved of shooting the bear if its spotted he said "If it's for the benefit of people, then why not."

Ruggiero said there are children in the neighborhood and their well being is the most important thing,

Game and Fish officials say the bear's chance of survival depends on whether residents cooperate and deprive it of human food.

"If you get the garbage secured, the fruit off the trees, and get the bird feeders down he might just go back to Pena Blanca Lake, end of story. That's a good outcome," Hart said.

The bear was thought to have left the mountains during the warm October in search of water, not food, but ran into the garbage and got used to it very quickly.

"Once they get a taste of garbage, that's all they want," Hart said. "Not fruits and berries."

It's thought if the bear does not have garbage to feed on, it may voluntarily return to the mountains.

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