Some residents in a Gold Canyon neighborhood are upset after wildlife officials euthanized a black bear found rummaging through garbage and climbing a tree over the weekend.
“The whole neighborhood was saying, ‘Please, please relocate him,’” said resident Susan Van Trojen. “Find a zoo or anything for him. We’ve got so much open space.”
But officials said the 2-yearold bear was “a threat to public safety,” since it didn’t fear humans and had entered populated areas on more than one occasion.
“With the advent of all the problems over human encroachment in recent years, we’ve made a consistent policy,” said Marty Fabritz, Arizona Game and Fish Department field supervisor. “The first and foremost is public safety. Period.”
Neighbors noticed the bear in their area Friday night and called the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. State wildlife officials used a tranquilizer gun to shoot the bear down from the tree.
“It was an exciting night,” said Ralph Cutro, whose tree the bear climbed. “We watched from my office window and finally one of the (men) shot him with a medicated dart, and he slowly fell out of the tree.”
Tom Cadden, a Game and Fish Department spokesman, said sometimes bears are relocated. But since the Gold Canyon bear had already entered a populated area in Sierra Vista and was relocated to the eastern Superstition wilderness, it could not be moved again.
“It’s unfortunate,” Cadden said. “But when it is deemed to be a public threat to safety, it becomes necessary to take this action.”
Cadden said a bear is a threat to public safety when it attacks a human, shows a propensity for aggression or repeatedly enters public areas without fear of humans.
Some neighbors wondered why the bear wasn’t taken to a zoo, but Phoenix Zoo officials said they don’t have room to take in large animals permanently, and state wildlife officials said they do not generally trap animals to give to zoos.
Fabritz said oftentimes, bears that move into populated areas are young, forced out by older bears that take most of the food. In 2000, more than 20 bears were captured in the Valley and relocated to the Four Peaks area. Only one returned to residential areas.
“We are just trying to avoid a situation where a bear gets so used to humans he does something we don’t want him to do,” Fabritz said.
Tips to deter wildlife
1. Never intentionally feed wildlife.
2. Secure all garbage and remove all pet food and other such attractants.
3. Supervise your children.
4. Be aware of your surroundings.
5. Don’t let your pets roam free.
SOURCE: Arizona Game and Fish Department