June 29, 2023
PHOENIX — Many people will be headed to Arizona’s high country this weekend, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is reminding outdoor recreationists and residents to be aware of the chance encounter with bears or other native wildlife.
The best way to enjoy wildlife is from a safe distance. Bears, in particular, are powerful animals that should always be considered unpredictable and potentially dangerous. A Tucson man was killed by a black bear June 16 in the Groom Creek area south of Prescott.
Black bears (the only bear species in Arizona) will usually detect you and leave the area before you notice, unless the bear has been conditioned to people and their food. If you live or recreate in bear country, take responsibility for not attracting them. Always work with your fellow campers or residential neighbors to make unavailable food sources and garbage that might attract a bear.
Living and recreating in bear habitat comes with responsibility. Here are some tips to avoid conflicts with 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.
- Don’t feed bears or other wildlife. Be aware that human behaviors, such as feeding other animals, can attract black bears.
- Keep pet and livestock food inside or remove all uneaten food.
- Hang bird feeders at least 10 feet above ground and away from buildings, including porches, and use a tray to catch spills. Take bird feeders down at night. Discontinue feeding if a bear is in the area.
- Clean barbecues and store in a secure area.
- 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 dog hiking, always keep it on a leash and be sure its rabies vaccinations are up to date.
In case of a bear encounter
- Alter your route to avoid a bear in the distance.
- If the bear approaches, back away slowly facing forward.
- Do NOT run, that could trigger the bear to chase, and do not play dead.
- If the bear continues to approach, make yourself as large and imposing as possible. Stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items. Make loud noises, such as yelling or use a whistle.
- If attacked, fight back with everything in your power — fists, sticks, rocks, and E.P.A. registered bear pepper spray.
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 https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife-conservation/living-with-wildlife/.