"The greatest attractant for bears is food. Most conflicts between people and bears are associated with the availability of food. Bears may look cute and cuddly to many, but they are immensely strong animals that are capable of harming people. We don’t want people to be afraid, but we want people to be aware that bear-human conflicts can occur," said Pat O’Brien, department spokesperson.
In addition to their natural foods of berries, nuts, grasses and insects, bears can also be attracted to human foods, garbage, bird seed, hummingbird feeders, pet foods, livestock feed, tree fruits, garden vegetables and many other edible substances.
"You can make a difference by eliminating the availability of food," O’Brien said.
Please consider the following tips:
Always make your campsite less attractive to bears by keeping food unavailable to them. Secure all food out of the reach of bears. Store it out of sight in your vehicle, or place it in a campground supplied food storage box when available;
NEVER take food into your tent or other sleeping areas. Always store food away from sleeping areas. Avoid sleeping in the same area where you prepare or eat food.
Wash your face and hands and change your clothes before going to bed. Check to ensure that youngsters do the same, especially if they have eaten sweets. Place soiled clothing in your vehicle, or well away from your tent. Keep toiletries, such as soaps, out of your sleeping area. Soaps, deodorants and other toiletries can smell like food sources to bears; Do not intentionally feed wildlife, bears or any others. Once wild animals look to man as a food source, they are on the road to future conflict. Wildlife and people can lose.
If confronted by a bear, the first rule is stay calm and DO NOT RUN or make any sudden movements when you are out in the open away from a protective structure or if the bear is extremely close. Remember that all bears can run extremely fast. If you encounter a bear on the same hiking trail you are traveling, step off the trail. Remain facing the bear and back away slowly. If you can safely get to a vehicle or any other secure structure, it is advisable to do so. Allow the bear plenty of room to escape. Bears that feel threatened, or those with cubs, can pose the greatest threat to your safety. Make loud noises to scare the bear away.
Be aware that coming between a bear and her cubs is very dangerous. If you encounter a bear, always try to detect the presence of cubs and maintain a safe distance from both.
If attacked by a black bear, it is usually best to fight back with all means available. Attacking black bears have been driven away when people have fought back.
Black bears come in a variety of color phases, including black, brown and cinnamon (reddish). The majority of bears observed in Arizona are of the brown phase. Although it is difficult to determine the exact number of bears in the state, current estimates range from 2,000 to 2,500. Adult black bears vary greatly in size and weight, with adults ranging from 125 to 450 pounds. Males are usually larger than females.