WILLIAMS — Wildlife Park officials at Bearizona report that they have worked with Arizona Game & Fish to facilitate a rescue of a young female bear that was seen multiple times around the Mt. Lemmon area. The bear reportedly followed hikers, tried to get into homes and had no fear of humans. In cases like this, usually the bear would be euthanized.
Often time’s bears will venture into campsites or urban areas for food that is more easily accessible. That’s where the saying a fed bear is a dead bear comes from. It’s important for people to clean up after themselves while camping and not make it easy for bears to get a quick meal. If a bear finds easily obtainable food and/or food trash, the animal will continue to return until the food source is gone.
Black bears usually avoid people, but are attracted to human food and trash. The AGFD reminds campers to be “bear aware” by doing the following:
- Keeping a clean camp or picnic site.
- Stowing food, pet food, trash and picnic coolers out of sight and out of smell range of bears.
- Utilizing bear-proof food and trash receptacles where provided.
- Washing and stowing cooking utensils immediately following use.
- Not taking odorous items (toothpaste, lotions, etc.) or clothing used while cooking into tents.
- Keeping pets leashed.
- Avoiding contact with bears.
If bears are seen in the distance, it is advisable for visitors to change their route to avoid contact. If approached by a bear, discourage contact by looking large and imposing, waving arms or jacket, making loud noises and giving the bear an opportunity to leave the area.
Sean Casey, Bearizona’s owner stated “This past year we enacted a birth control plan for all of our bears. Cubby and Rizzo, our current cubs, will very likely be the last bear cubs born at the Park. We do this so we are able to rescue bears out of the wild when possible. Unfortunately we won’t be able to rescue every bear in need, but we are moving in a direction to rescue when the situation works for all parties involved.”
“We are fortunate to have found a new home for her,” said AZGFD Region 5 Supervisor Raul Vega. “That rarely is possible with common species like black bears. So this story has a happy ending, but it could have gone another way. Young bears that seem dangerous grow up to be large bears that are aggressive.”
Out of all of the bears that call Bearizona home, over 60% were rescued. Bearizona’s newest addition named “Lemmon” after Mt. Lemmon in Tucson where she lived, will stay in mandatory quarantine for 30 days before being released into the cub exhibit with Cubby and Rizzo.