An Arizona campground will be closed until the end of August due to a bear attacking a 74-year-old Apache Junction woman.
The attack happened about 4:30 a.m. on Thursday at the Ponderosa Campground, about 10 miles east of Payson. The bear clawed its way through a tent and came in contact with the woman.
Jim Paxon with Arizona Game and Fish said the campground has been closed while the search is on for the bear.
“This bear poses a threat to public safety so we will lethally remove this bear,” he said.
The victim was treated at Payson Regional Medical Center for non-threatening injuries and released. The woman’s husband and dog were not hurt. Paxon said the victim didn’t do anything to cause the attack.
“They did everything right,” he said. “They didn’t have any food in the tent.”
With Arizona now in its 20th year of drought, the bears are desperately searching for food and water.
Tonto National Forest officials said an area closure order is effective beginning at 2:30 p.m. Thursday until August 31, or until the bear is found.
“Better safe than sorry, you know?” said David Albo, Tonto National Forest Spokesman.
The campground closure area is bounded by the junction of Hwy 260 and Forest Road (FR) 405-A, south to Forest Road 893 continuing south on FR 893 until its junction with Forest Trail 37, then south on Trail 37 to the Hellsgate Wilderness boundary line, then northeast along the Wilderness boundary line to FR 405 and north along FR 405 to its junction with Hwy 260, then south to its junction with Forest Road 405-A.
The following roads in this area are closed: FR 405-A, FR 405, FR 893, FR 1625, and Forest Trail 37.
A Gilbert woman died last year several weeks after she was attacked by a bear in Pinetop.
KTAR’s Sandra Haros contributed to this report.