PHOENIX — A Gilbert woman was attacked by an adult male black bear while walking her dog in Pinetop late Tuesday evening. The attack occurred near Sports Village Loop approximately 60 yards from the dumpster where the bear was scavenging. The bear returned to attack the victim several times, and a passing motorist was able to scare the bear away.
The woman was flown to the Phoenix area for medical treatment.
Within a few hours, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services personnel arrived and used dogs to track the bear from the scene of the attack. The dogs quickly encountered a bear within a couple hundred yards of the site and treed it after a short pursuit. It was immediately dispatched.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is conducting a forensic necropsy to confirm that the bear is the one responsible for the attack. Disease testing, including rabies, will also be conducted by an outside laboratory, although officials do not believe the animal is disease-afflicted.
“We want to express our deepest concerns for the woman and her family,” said Director Larry Voyles of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “This was an especially aggressive, predatory attack that reminds us that wildlife can be unpredictable. The bear travelled from the dumpster where it was scavenging to the woman who was 60 yards away. Biting is a learned bear behavior and once a bear demonstrates that behavior, the animal is considered extremely dangerous, and the department must dispatch it for the public’s safety.”
If the forensic necropsy determines that the bear was not the one responsible, tracking efforts will begin immediately to find the right bear.
“Bears are particularly active at this time of year, and we don’t believe this attack is related to wildfires in northeastern Arizona. Bears are easily drawn to human food sources, like dumpsters, trash cans and campsites especially during times of drought. Game and Fish strongly reminds residents living in bear country to be aware of bears in their area and to properly dispose of all food sources in secure containers,” said Voyles.
Bear attacks on humans are rare with only six cases documented in Arizona since 1990, which is as far back as the department’s database tracks.
Lynda Lambert (623) 236-7203
Public Information Officer