Game officials are urging people to be cautious following seven recent incidents involving black bears in Southern Arizona, including a series of bear attacks near the Santa Rita Mountains over the weekend and a reported bear sighting this morning on Tucson’s far east side.
Wildlife officers captured and killed a bear today that damaged two vehicles three times since Friday night at Parker Canyon Lake southeast of Tucson, and responded this morning to an area in Tucson where a bear was reportedly blocking traffic near 22nd Street and Houghton Road.
Also, wildlife officers are trying to capture a black bear that has damaged four buildings at the University of Arizona’s Santa Rita Experimental Range headquarters since last Friday. It has entered two of those buildings — near Florida Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson — seeking food, and has been seen in that area twice just since Sunday night.
“Residents of areas where bears have been seen recently should secure trash cans, indoors if possible, until the morning of pickup. They should also not leave food outside on patios or screened porches, even if it is in refrigerators or freezers,” said Arizona Game and Fish regional supervisor Raul Vega. “Bears are normally territorial and solitary, but they are also curious, and can become used to human food sources. If so, they will return to that place where they found that food.”
While springtime bear sightings are common, it is unusual to have seven problem bears in this region within a month. The first incident occurred May 14 when a yearling bear was captured in Picacho, north of Tucson near Interstate 10, and was relocated to the Santa Ritas. It’s not known if that bear was the one causing the recent damage at Florida Canyon, Game and Fish spokesman Mark Hart said.
So far, three bears have been euthanized and two have been relocated, with the Santa Rita and Tucson east side bears still at large.