Officials warn Arizona residents about bears after sighting in southern part of state
Apr 22, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: 9:55 pm
PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is warning the public to be aware of bears following its first confirmed report of a black bear for 2023 in the southeastern part of the state.
The bear, estimated to be two or three years old and to weigh 150 pounds, was spotted April 12 foraging garbage near Peppersauce Canyon, which is about 40 miles northeast of Tucson.
Black bears usually emerge from semi-hibernation in March, according to a press release issued by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
“Bears in search of food are often attracted to homes and into proximity with people,” Raul Vega of the Arizona Game and Fish Department in Tucson said in the release. “This close contact puts both humans and bears at risk.”
“Most conflicts are the result of people unintentionally feeding bears, most often by allowing them access to household garbage, bird feeders, garden areas or trees bearing fruit. Fed bears can lose their fear of humans and begin to associate humans with food, sometimes causing property damage and even injuring people. But conflicts between humans and bears are preventable.”
Storing garbage in a secure garage or shed until collection will virtually eliminate the chances of a bear visit, according to the release. If a bear does not find a food source, it will move on.
Residents who spot a bear in their yard, neighborhood or campground can contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 623-236-7201.
Bears are classified as big game animals in Arizona and are protected by state law. It’s unlawful to feed wildlife, including bears, in Pima, Pinal and Cochise counties.