MT. LEMMON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Officials with Arizona Game and Fish are putting out a warning ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
Three bear sightings in less than a week on Mount Lemmon have prompted the bear warning to hikers and campers.
Wildlife experts say the first encounter happened Thursday, May 18, near where the Arizona Trail intersects the Red Ridge Trail.
"The first bear raided the camp during daylight hours Thursday and Friday when the campers were afield," said Game and Fish Public Information Officer Mark Hart.
The next bear sighting happened near Summerhaven on Saturday, May 20.
The bear, Hart said, "apparently smelled food that had been cooking inside earlier. It did not try to get in, but could have easily."
Wildlife officials say the bears are getting too comfortable with humans and are beginning to associate the presence of humans with food.
Hart said, "We want hikers and campers to be 'bear aware' Memorial Day weekend. Don't feed them, store food in locking 'bear boxes' in campgrounds, secure lids on garbage cans and dumpsters, and never, ever take food in your tent. Wash up after cooking or eating as you still smell like food afterward, bears have a keen sense of smell."
If a bear approaches or won't leave, "get big." Stand upright, wave arms overhead, yell, throw what's handy, maintain direct eye contact. That's called "hazing," or scaring them away.
Call 623-237-7201 If you cross paths with a nuisance bear.
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