A bear sighting in Summerhaven has prompted Arizona Game and Fish officials to warn the public to be “bear aware” if they visit Mount Lemmon this weekend.
A female bear and her two cubs that had been seen in the area recently were spotted again Wednesday and were reportedly unafraid of people, Mark Hart, a spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, wrote in a news release.
It’s possible that the bears were displaced by the Burro Fire, Hart said.
“They are among eight bears sighted in the Santa Catalina Mountains since June 11 in areas ranging from Rose Canyon Lake to Ski Valley,” Hart said. “It’s unclear whether the sightings were all of different bears.”
The department expected some bears to have been displaced by the fire, but urges the public not to feed the bears out of sympathy, not to approach them or photograph too closely, said Game and Fish regional supervisor Raul Vega.
Female bears with cubs can be quite dangerous, Vega said.
Campers and hikers should make sure to secure garbage can and dumpster lids and store food in locking “bear boxes” provided by the campground. Food should not be brought into tents overnight and campers should wash up and change their clothes after cooking, since bears have a strong sense of smell, according to the release.
If bears are seen from afar, hikers should change their route and avoid contact. If a person is approached by a bear, he or she should discourage contact by standing upright, waving their arms overhead, making loud noises, throwing objects on hand and giving the bear an opportunity to leave the area, the release said.
If the bear doesn’t leave, stay calm, face the animal and back away slowly. Never run or play dead, and if attacked, fight back.
Bear sightings can be reported immediately to the Game and Fish Department at 623-236-7201, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.