May 11, 2023
Safety tips to prevent attracting bears and what to do in case of an encounter
PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has started to receive its first confirmed reports of the year of bear sightings in Arizona. As temperatures rise, bears will come out of their dens searching for food.
Black bears are typically shy and avoid humans; however, they have an excellent sense of smell, which can be problematic for the bears themselves and people.
AZGFD officials advise those living in or visiting bear country not to feed wildlife or leave trash or other attractants, such as pet food or bird seed, accessible because it could lead to a situation where “a fed bear is a dead bear.”
“If a bear becomes habituated to getting food from trash cans and other human sources, it’s only a matter of time before it loses its fear of humans and begins to actively search other human food sources,” says Lt. Shawn Wagner, AZGFD law enforcement program manager. “At that point, the bear becomes a threat to public safety.”
Safety tips to avoid attracting bears:
Keep them away from your home.
- Keep all trash inside a secured area until collection day. If that’s not possible, keep food waste in a bag in the freezer and place those in the trash as close to collection time as possible.
- Take bird feeders down at night.
- Keep pet and livestock food inside or remove all uneaten food.
- Keep your food and attractants secured and inaccessible to bears. Do not keep food in your tent.
- Don’t burn leftover food or trash at the grill or campfire.
- Set your campsite away from places where bears might forage for food, such as creeks, rivers, and other bodies of water.
- Don’t wear scented lotions, deodorant, or perfumes.
- Make noise or hike in groups.
- If you take your pet hiking, always keep it on a leash.
In case of a bear encounter
- Do NOT run, that could trigger the bear to chase.
- Do NOT play dead, fight back.
- Attempt to deter, then back away slowly facing forward if the bear keeps approaching
- Make yourself look bigger by raising your arms or pulling your shirt/jacket higher than your head.
- Throw items such as rocks and yell at the bear.
- If attacked, fight back.
Bear sightings in areas with human activity should be reported to AZGFD’s 24/7 dispatch center at 623-236-7201. In an emergency, call 911. For additional information, click here or visit the Living with Wildlife page at www.azgfd.gov