Recent Arizona bear sightings put hikers, campers on high alert

The state of Arizona has one of the highest populations of Black Bears in the nation. Several recent bear sightings in the Tucson Area have hikers and the Arizona Game and Fish Department on high alert.
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The state of Arizona has one of the highest populations of Black Bears in the nation.
 
Several recent bear sightings in the Tucson Area have hikers and the Arizona Game and Fish Department on high alert.

Amy Burnett with the Arizona Game and Fish Department says three bear sightings have been reported since last Friday. 

A black bear described to be about 200 pounds was reported to be seen and all of the sightings were reported to be along Old Baldy Trail.

"The area where the bear was sighted is Madera Canyon, which is southeast of Tucson, so if you're taking the nine, it's right in this area here," Burnett said. "One bear sighting growled at someone on the ground, she got nervous, dropped her backpack. The bear got the backpack and ate the food that was inside."

Just last month, another black bear was spotted nearly a dozen times on Mount Lemmon in Tucson. This one was captured without incident and taken to Bearizona.

But not every bear sighting is without incident. A man in California running on a wilderness trail in the Angeles National Forest was attacked and suffered cuts, scratches and puncture wounds.

"They get accustomed to people, they're not as afraid when that happens, then you can have an instance where someone can get bitten," Burnett said. "They get bolder. That's what we want to avoid. We want to keep wildlife wild."

Burnett recommends carrying bear spray when you hike.

"It is dangerous, you don't want to spray anyone with it," she said. "It's not a toy, but keep one in your backpack. Keep one with you."

Make sure you clean up after yourself when on the trail or camping because garbage and food can attract bears. If you see one, Burnett says to be big, turn slowly and walk away.

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