The Arizona Game and Fish Department is currently monitoring a flurry of bear sightings in the Boynton Canyon area near Sedona.
While the most recent reports have been of a female with cubs, it is believed there are a number of bears around the area.
“This is simply cautionary,” said Shelly Shepherd, public information officer for the Game and Fish Region 2 office in Flagstaff. “The public needs to understand bears are active and some caution should be taken whenever people are in the wild.”
Shepherd said bear sightings in the area are not unusual, but warned that bear behavior can be erratic, especially when a female is with its cubs. She also said bears can quickly become habituated to a public setting as a result of human behavior such as providing free-standing water or an easy food source.
“Remember,” Shepherd said, “a fed bear is a dead bear. People who feed wildlife, intentionally or unintentionally, can definitely compound any potential problems. Animals, such as bears, will come to town for an easy handout.
“Please take the suggestions we’ve been giving to heart and remove possible attractants not only for the benefit of bears, but other wildlife as well. We don’t want to see the situation escalate.”
For those who do encounter a bear, Shepherd provided some suggestions:
- Don’t run. Running elicits a predatory response. If you run, a bear might instinctively want to chase and catch you. “Think of a cat chasing a string,” Shepherd said.
- Stay calm.
- Continue facing the bear and slowly back away.
- Pick young children up off the ground.
- Speak loudly or yell and let it know you are human (don’t scream).
- Make loud noises by banging pans, using air horns, or whatever is available.
- If attacked, fight back.
- Never get between a female bear and her cubs.
To learn more about black bears and how to avoid conflicts with wildlife, visit www.azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife.
Image courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department