Increased bear activity temporarily closes 2 trails in the Santa Rita Mountains

Published: Oct. 10, 2016 at 8:45 PM MST
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Nuisance bear spotted near Madera Canyon. (Source: U.S. Forest Service)
Nuisance bear spotted near Madera Canyon. (Source: U.S. Forest Service)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Old Baldy and Super trails, on the Nogales Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest in the Santa Rita Mountains, have been temporarily closed, according to a recent release from the U.S. Forest Service.

Both trails are closed from the Super Trail and Old Baldy trailheads to Josephine Saddle. No word on when they will be reopened.

Those who frequent Madera Canyon, where the trails are located are advised there is a nuisance bear that has been observed higher up in the Santa Rita Mountains.  According to the release the bear was seen on the Old Baldy Trail near Bellow Springs and reportedly approached hikers there.  It is a medium sized, dark brown to black in color bear.

The U.S. Forest Service is reminding those who visit 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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