AZGFD bear (courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish Department)
Bear encounters are increasing throughout the state.
Printer Friendly Version

AZGFD warns of increased bear encounters

Staff Report~ 5/28/2014

PHOENIX – As temperatures climb and Arizonans head north, human encounters with bears in the high country and in expanding mountain communities are on the increase.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials are asking people to ‘Be Bear Aware.’ Homeowners and recreationists should take precautions to minimize potential conflicts with bears and other wildlife.

 The root cause of any human-wildlife encounter is typically food. Keep a clean camp. AZGFD recommends cooking and eating food 100 yards away from your sleeping area.
AZGFD bear safety tips:

  • Never intentionally feed wildlife. Even bird feeders can become attractants if they are not placed out of reach of bears and set up properly to prevent spillage.
  • Don’t camp near hiking trails, water, or berry patches.
  • Secure all garbage. To do so, use bear-resistant containers, hang garbage from a tree (garbage should be 10-15 feet high and 4 feet from its hanging surface) or keep garbage in a vehicle.
  • Keep tent and sleeping area clear of any food and other scented items such as deodorant, lotion, and toothpaste.
  • Walk or jog in groups. Pay attention to your surroundings when hiking, jogging or bicycling.
  • Supervise your children (especially toddlers) and keep them in sight at all times.
  • Keep your pets on a leash – don’t allow them to be free roaming. Free roaming pets can be a cause of adverse human/bear encounters, especially dogs chasing female bears with cubs.
  • Don’t leave pet food out where bears and other wild animals become habituated to it.
  • Manage the vegetation around your home to eliminate hiding and daybed use cover for bears and wildlife.
  • Remember that the majority of standard coolers are not effective at keeping a bear from breaking in and stealing its contents. There are companies that specialize in bear-resistant containers.

If you encounter a bear, consider these suggestions:

  • Never get between a female bear and her cubs. Do not try to intervene with a bear chasing your dog back to you. Let the bear focus its attention on your dog and not switch its aggression towards you.
  • Stay calm.
  • If a bear has not noticed you, do not get its attention. Continue facing it, and slowly back away.
  • If a bear has noticed you, make loud noises by clanging pans, using air horns, or whatever is available.
  • If attacked, fight back. Bear and mountain lion attacks are predation events and you are considered the prey.
  • If a bear has noticed you, don’t run unless it is dangerously close. Get inside of a vehicle or building. Running elicits what is called a predator-prey response – if you run, the animal might instinctively want to chase and catch you. Despite their imposing size, bears are quick and can reach speeds of 40 mph.
  • Make yourself look as big and imposing as possible.
  • Speak loudly or yell – let it know you are human.

For more information and safety tips, visit