About two years ago I was hunting in northern AZ and came across some cool bear tracks while hunting turkey. I returned with my wife to show her the tracks, and to my amazement, the bear had been there again as his tracks were placed on top of mine that I put there about two hours before! This kind of freaked me out, so I went and bought a 44 mag, as I didn't think my 45 or 357 would have enough to put down a bear reliably. Now, don't get me wrong, I wanted one anyways and it seemed like as good of an excuse that I could have.
I just read this article this morning. It seems that having a bear gun isn't such a bad idea after all. Here's the link, followed by a pic I took of the bear tracks.
By Mike Sakal, Tribune | 0 comments
Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife officers and personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services lethally removed three black bears over the weekend, following a trio of bear attacks within the last month and resulting in the closures of campgrounds near Payson.
Killing the bears also were in response to attacks within the last month involving three Valley residents — an Apache Junction woman on May 31, a Glendale man late June 21 and Tempe man on June 22, according to information from Arizona Game and Fish.
Pedro Baca, 30, of Tempe, was attacked about 5 a.m. on Sunday at the Ponderosa campground while sleeping. Baca remains in critical condition at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital, according to information from Arizona Game and Fish.
The first of two bears killed on Sunday was a young adult male weighing around 160 pounds, and the second bear was a very large female that weighed approximately 300 pounds. Dogs had tracked the bears from a scent trail near the campground. Officials first had lethally removed a bear on Friday when it was trailed by hounds, close to the site of the second attack near Tonto Village and Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery.
The removal of the bears also has caused the Ponderosa Campground and two others to be closed, possibly until July 15 while the incidents are under review, according to Game and Fish. The Ponderosa Campground is 12 miles northeast of Payson.
The Sharp Creek and Christopher Creek campgrounds are closed and campers have been evacuated, officials said.
The Christopher Creek Campground is 19 miles northeast of Payson on Arizona 260 while the Sharp Creek Campground is 23 miles northeast of Payson on the south side of Arizona 260.
Game and Fish officials said it was necessary to lethally remove the bears because of the aggressive, predatory behavior the animals which may have been involved in attacking all three victims during the past month. The only means of testing for rabies is by having the animal’s carcass.
Game and Fish has conducted forensic investigations on all three victims’ personal belongings and camping equipment to recover DNA samples. Those samples, as well as some tissue from the bears that were removed, were scheduled to be flown to the Wyoming Game and Fish Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory on Tuesday for analysis to determine whether the bears were the ones responsible for the earlier maulings.
“Until we receive the results of the DNA analysis, we will not know whether these three recent attacks can be attributed to one bear or three different bears. DNA examination is critical in this case for helping prove or disprove a link between the attacks,” said Rod Lucas, regional supervisor for Game and Fish in an agency-issued statement.
Game and Fish set bear culvert traps following the first incident on May 31 involving an Apache Junction woman, but had yet to catch a bear. A trap was set in the Ponderosa Campground at the time of the latest attack.
“By setting culvert traps in the area where the attacks have occurred, we are more likely to catch the problem bear and not other bears that are not creating public safety issues,” Lucas said. “Our wildlife officers chose their profession because of their love for wildlife and the outdoors. They do not enjoy destroying animals, but the burden of public safety and active management of wildlife dictates an aggressive approach, and efforts will continue until the offending animal is found or it is no longer feasible to continue operations.”
With the state’s drought and scarce wildlife food resources, more and more wildlife are moving into areas that are on the fringe of wildlands, looking for food. Bears are particularly attracted to campground areas where they often find easy access to garbage and food sources.
Bear attacks on humans are rare despite Arizona’s robust population of 2,500 to 3,000 bears. Sunday’s attack is only the 10th documented bear attack in Arizona since 1990, but the third this year.
Slightly less than a year ago, Lana Hollingsworth, 61, of Gilbert died in late July days after she was mauled by a bear in Pinetop. Hollingsworth volunteered in three capacities with the Gilbert Fire Department and dressed up as a clown to provide humor therapy at local hospitals.
For more information about the closure of the campgrounds and areas near them, visit www.fs.usda.gov/tonto
or call the Payson Ranger District offices at (928) 474-7900.