PINETOP, Ariz. – Residents returning to their homes near the Wallow Fire are advised to dispose of spoiled or unsafe food at the local landfill/refuse station to minimize conflicts with black bears.
The Wallow Wildfire has gone through some of the state’s densest bear habitat near the communities of Eager, Springerville, Nutrioso, and Alpine, in some areas displacing the local bear population that is in search of food, water, and shelter.
During these conditions, an influx of open, rotten, and easily accessible food sources in the community are the key ingredients for a possible human-wildlife conflict during an already trying crisis.
Arizona Game and Fish wildlife managers understand residents are already dealing with a lot, but are asking local citizens to take the extra step to “Be Bear Aware” and discard spoiled foods, including dry goods, at their local refuse/transfer station immediately rather than leaving these attractants on their property for pickup services.
Open refuse/transfer stations in the area are:
Nutrioso Transfer Station
- Located on Route 180/191, 2 miles north of Nutrioso on the west side of the road.
- Special hours: Thurs. 6/16 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Normal hours: Saturday 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., Tues. 3-5 p.m.
- Eager Transfer Station
- Located on Highway 260, 5 miles west of Eager
- Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Residents that witness a sustained or out-of-the ordinary presence of bear(s) are asked to contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department at:
- The Pinetop regional office (928) 367-4281, or
- The radio dispatch center at (623) 236-7201.
After residents have cleared out any spoiled foods, they can remain Bear Aware by taking the following steps:
- Don’t leave pet food outside
- Don’t leave grains on the ground outside
- Don’t leave unsecured trash outside
To learn more about the habits and behaviors of black bears, and how to prevent conflicts with these animals, visit www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_bear.shtml.
When Alpine residents are allowed to return to their community, the same concerns will apply, and those citizens are asked to use the Alpine Transfer Station. For location and times, contact the Blue Hills Environmental Association, (928) 333-1628.
For more Game and Fish related information for the White Mountain area, check out the Pinetop Region’s Facebook page by searching “Arizona Game and Fish Pinetop Region” and hit the “like” button.