DNA shows 2 bears not involved in most recent attack in Arizona

PAYSON, AZ - Wildlife officials say DNA testing on two of three black bears killed after recent attacks in Arizona confirmed neither of the bears was involved in the June 24 attack of a man in his tent at Ponderosa Campground near Payson.

According to a Thursday news release from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, a lack of DNA material from the first two victims' belongings resulted in inconclusive analysis on the first two attacks.

"The DNA results came back inconclusive on two of the attacks because of a lack of DNA material to analyze. We meticulously attempted to remove any available DNA samples from the first two victims' personal belongings and submitted quite a few hairs. Unfortunately, the samples were hair that was shed, not plucked or pulled, which means there was no root and no DNA material," said Dr. Anne Justice-Allen, the Arizona Game and Fish Department's wildlife veterinarian. "So, it could be that one of the bears removed was involved in one or both of the first two attacks."    

The three bears were lethally removed by wildlife officials in the past week from the area where the attacks occurred after dogs tracked them from scent trails found near the site of the attacks, officials said.

Rabies tests done on the three bears by the Arizona Department of Health Services came back negative.

The first and third attacks occurred on May 31 and June 24 at the Ponderosa Campground 10 miles east of Payson.

The second attack took place on June 21 in Tonto Village, approximately one mile north of the Ponderosa Campground.

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