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Be Bear Aware: Dry weather conditions may increase bear activity in the high country

Posted July 2, 2021

Safety tips to prevent attracting them, and what to do in case of an encounter

PHOENIX – Arizona’s hot, dry conditions have reduced the amount of natural vegetation available to bears in the wild, raising the chance of them wandering into areas they are typically not seen in search of food. Although bears are typically shy and tend to avoid humans they have an excellent sense of smell, and this can be problematic for bears and people.

Wildlife officials advise those living or visiting bear country to avoid feeding wildlife and to not leave trash, food or other attractants such as pet food or bird seed accessible, because 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 out human food sources,” says Larry Phoenix, AZGFD region 2 (Flagstaff) supervisor. “At that point, the bear becomes a threat to public safety.”

Here are some tips to avoid attracting bears:

Keep them away from your home

Although forest closures or restrictions due to wildfires and hot, dry conditions may temporarily affect access for hiking and camping in parts of Arizona, the following are good tips nonetheless:

Camping

Hiking

In case of a bear encounter

Bear sightings in areas where there is human activity should be reported to AZGFD’s dispatch center at 623-236-7201. For questions or to obtain a brochure on living with bears, visit www.azgfd.com/Wildlife/LivingWith.