WILLIAMS, Ariz. - The Arizona Game and Fish Department said Friday, stats showed double the number of bear sightings over the last month in Payson when compared to the same time last year.
We headed to Bearizona Wildlife Park and asked visitors and staff what to do when coming across a bear in the wild.
Kyle Alexander, the head of program animals at Bearizona, said not to feed bears. Staff with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) said feeding bears is illegal Arizona.
“That is teaching them to come closer to us, especially at the camp sites. Make sure you’re always putting your food away,” Alexander said.
AZGFD said to keep food away from where you’re sleeping and those living near the woods should buy bear-proof trash containers.
If you do see a bear out and about, do everything you can to stay away.
“If it notices you, you just want to walk away -- don’t run,” Kira Harvey said while visiting the park with her grandparents.
“I know that bears could be vicious,” Paige Milner, another park visitor, said.
Alexander agreed with both visitors, adding bears are pretty good at making their way up trees, so don’t trap yourself by climbing up one in an attempt to get away.
Alexander said if you can’t get away, make the animals think you’re just as scary as they are.
“You want to act big, you want to act scary. Put your hands up in the air. Roar like a big bear,” Alexander said.
Alexander said the chances of actually seeing a bear in the wild were pretty low, but he and AZGFD officials agreed, if you happen to face off against one and all else fails, fight for your life.