Taking proper precautions and being aware of surroundings promotes safety, keeps bears wild

PHOENIX - In the midst of so many shocking bear attacks, taking the proper precautions is the best way to keep your family safe on all occasions.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department says that the male victim who was attacked on June 24 appeared to have followed all normal precautions regarding bear safety, but the bear seemed to possess traits of one that had already been used to people and finding food around certain areas.

Black bears are the only bear species found in Arizona and are generally shy and afraid of humans. They are very rarely seen and seek out highly-vegetated land.

On the other hand, bears are most influenced by humans which can make them potentially dangerous, according to a news release from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

In the case of the latest bear attacks, those bears are suspected to be ones who are accustomed to human interaction and activity.

In order to keep bears away, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking the public to keep all potential food sources inside, or out of bear-accessible areas.

Especially with hot drought conditions, animals will be more likely to seek sources of food.

According to the news release, the more bears are around humans, the more dangerous they become and the more likely the bear will become a hazard and have to be removed or euthanized.

Age and sex also play in a role in deciding which animals are safe and which must be moved or killed. For example, male bears are more likely to randomly attack humans rather than females who are more shy.

Either way, bears are large, predatory animals that have a very dense population in the Payson area. Although there have been three attacks in the last month, only 10 attacks have been reported in Arizona since 1990.

It is still safe to enjoy the outdoors but it is important to be smart and aware of your surroundings:

  • If you are camping, keep the area clean, safely discard and store all food and keep those items away from your sleeping quarters.
  • Washing up before bed can also eliminate body odors and scents that may attract wildlife.
  • If you are at home, purchase bear-proof containers for anything that must remain outside and put trash out as close to collection time as possible to eliminate overnight activity.
  • Hang bird feeders at least 10 feet from the ground away from buildings or remove them altogether. As far as bears know, bird food is also their food and can attract them closer to your residence.
  • Cleaning up dirty barbecues, pet food and fruit from trees can also help eliminate bear activity.
  • If you happen to encounter a bear, scare it away by being very loud, making yourself look large and throwing objects toward it, but do your best not to run.

For more information, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department website.

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