First confirmed bear sighting in Santa Catalinas

First bear sighting in the Santa Catalinas

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Game and Fish Department released a video of the very first sighting of a bear in 2019 at Red Ridge Trail, Santa Catalinas today.

According to Arizona Game and Fish Department, black bears usually begin emerging from a state of semi-hibernation in March.

If a bear is in your yard or neighborhood or campground and refuses to leave, immediately contact them at 623-236-7201. 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, alter 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.

To help eliminate the chances of a bear visit, AZ Game and Fish says you should store garbage in a secure garage or shed until the morning of collection. If there is no ready food source, like the garbage, it will likely move on.

Campers are reminded to do the following:

  • Never take food into a tent
  • Use deodorizing sprays if storing food in cars
  • Use a bear-proof box whenever possible
  • Clean up thoroughly after cooking as well as change clothes afterward because garments may have lingering odors.

Fencing, lighting and dogs are not effective long-term solutions to deter bears when food is available. If a fence is the only option, remember that bears are good climbers and the fence should be at least 6-foot tall and constructed of non-climbable material.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department spends considerable time and money moving problem bears each year, and sometimes the effort does not work out for the bears or homeowners. The department may be forced to destroy problem bears because they are deemed dangerous, lost their fear of humans or continually get into conflicts with people.

Following removal or relocation, the homeowner may experience more problems from a different bear if the identified attractant is not eliminated. Relocating a bear is also traumatic for the animal and does not guarantee it will live. Some are killed by larger, older bears that have established territory in a relocation area.

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, Pinal and Cochise counties.

Violations can result in a fines ranging from $300 in Pima and Pinal counties, to $2,500 in Cochise County.

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