Sierra Vista residents asked to be more 'bear aware' | News
Arizona Game and Fish is encouraging Sierra Vista residents to be more ‘bear aware’ these days.
Last month a male black bear was treed for over ten hours in a residential area near Hereford, and in recent days one or more bears have been sighted close to homes. On August 1, residents reported seeing a bear close to the residential area south of Vista Grande at the mouth of Miller Canyon.
The locations of both sightings and where the bear was treed are close to the Huachuca Mountains that were burned by the Monument Fire in 2011. This fire may have caused changes in the bear’s habitat and are forcing the animals even closer to human populations.
Arizona Game and Fish are encouraging residents to secure their garbage inside until the morning of pickup, keep all pet or wildlife food inside their homes, as two ways to avoid potential bear foraging in their areas.
"Bears may visit areas of human use because they find food. They are particularly attracted to household garbage continuously stored outside. Birdseed, pet food and fruit trees are common attractants,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. “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.
One way to do this is by storing garbage in an enclosed or fenced area until pick up day; sheds, garages are one way, another is to fence it in. AZ Game and Fish recommend that the fence be at least six feet tall and constructed of non-climbable material, as bears are exceptional climbers.
Arizona Game and Fish has been working hard to help curb the public’s exposure to bears, by relocating, and if the case arises, sometimes putting the bears down that are considered too dangerous. These are bears that have lost their fear of humans or are in continual conflict with humans.
If a resident has a bear in their yard or neighborhood and it refuses to leave, they are instructed to contact the Game and Fish office at (520)628-5376 or 1-800-352-0700 on evenings, weekends or holidays. Depending on the situation department personnel may respond if the bear does not leave on its own.
If you see a bear in the distance, you should alter your route to avoid it. On the rare occasion a bear approaches you, you can discourage it by:
- Making yourself as large and imposing as possible. Stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items, and make loud noises.
- Do not run and never play dead.
- Give the bear a chance to leave the area.
- If the bear does not leave, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away.
The black bear is the only bear species found in the state. Bears are classified as big game animals in Arizona and are protected by state law. It is unlawful to feed wildlife, including bears, in Pima and Cochise counties. Violations can result in a fines ranging from $300 in Pima County to $2,500 in Cochise.
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