Bear sightings increase around Southern Arizona

Bear sightings increase around Southern Arizona

By Ina Ronquillo. CREATED May 19, 2014 - UPDATED: May 20, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) continues to closely monitor bear activity in southeastern Arizona due to multiple sightings throughout the region this year.
Mark Hart with AGFD tells KGUN9 that a yearling black bear is suspected of blowing an electrical transformer after climbing a tree between Duncan and Clifton.  The bear ran to a trailer park and homes afterward before being scared off by law enforcement.

The weekend of May 10-11, a female bear and two cubs may have killed up to 16 chickens at a bed and breakfast place in Arivaipa Canyon. The property owner subsequently agreed to secure the remaining chickens overnight and removed tree fruit and other attractants from the property, Hart said.

Earlier in the year, a black bear was sighted within 100 feet of the Peppersauce campground. Hart said the campers abandoned the camp and reported the sighting.

Bears were observed sporadically during the winter months in southeastern Arizona, suggesting that warmer weather may have shortened annual hibernations, from which black bears typically emerge in March, usually males before females, Hart said.

Consecutive dry winters and intermittent seasonal rains, coupled with lingering environmental impacts from the Monument and Horseshoe Two fires, suggest that there may be more cases of bears visiting residential areas this year.

Game and Fish fielded approximately 100 bear calls between mid-July and mid-October 2012 because of bears foraging in residential neighborhoods of greater Sierra Vista after the Monument Fire.

Recognizing the potential risk to both humans and bears, AGFD spends considerable time and money each year relocating bears.

If a bear is in your yard or neighborhood or campground and refuses to leave, immediately contact AGFD at (520) 628-5376 or at (800) 352-0700 evenings, weekend and holidays. Depending on what the bear is doing, department personnel may respond if it remains in the area.
If you see a bear in the distance, change your route to avoid it.

On the rare occasion that a bear approaches you, discourage it by:

  • Making yourself as large and imposing as possible. Stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items, and make loud noises.
  • Do not run and never play dead.
  • Give the bear a chance to leave the area.
  • If the bear does not leave, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away.

The black bear is the only bear species found in the state. Although fur color varies and includes brown, cinnamon and blond, they are all considered black bears. It is the smallest and most widely distributed North American bear.

  • Black bears:
  • Weigh 125-400 pounds with males being larger than females
  • Are three- to three-and-a-half feet tall when on all four feet
  • Eat primarily acorns, berries, insects and cactus fruits
  • Live in most forest, woodland and chaparral habitats, and desert riparian areas
  • Roam an area of 7 to 15 square miles
  • Produce two to three cubs born in January or February
  • Live up to 25 years in the wild,
  • Active at dawn and dusk.

Bears are classified as big game animals in Arizona and are protected by state law. It is unlawful to feed wildlife, including bears, in Pima and Cochise counties. Violations can result in a fines ranging from $300 in Pima County to $2,500 in Cochise.

Ina Ronquillo

Ina Ronquillo

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Ina received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona with a double major in Media Arts and Communication.