Warning issued after bears spotted in the Mount Lemmon area

TUCSON, Ariz. - A sighting of a bear and her two cubs Wednesday in Summerhaven is prompting a warning from the Arizona Game and Fish Department for the public to be "bear aware" in the area.

Catalina Highway is scheduled to reopen Friday.

The bears, possibly displaced by the Burro Fire, had been spotted in Summerhaven once prior to the fire and are apparently unafraid of people. 

They are among eight bears that have been sighted in the Santa Catalina Mountains since June 11 in areas, ranging from Rose Canyon Lake to Ski Valley.  It's unclear whether the sightings were all of different bears.

"We would expect some displacement of bears by the Burro Fire," said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson, "but these bears and others should not be fed out of sympathy, nor approached or photographed too closely. Female bears with cubs can be quite dangerous."

What to do if you see a bear

If hikers spot a bear in the distance, they should change their route to avoid contact.  

If approached by a bear, discourage contact by standing upright, waving arms overhead, making loud noises, throwing objects on hand, and giving the animal an opportunity to leave the area. 

If it does not leave, stay calm, face the animal, and slowly back away.  

Never run or play dead, and fight back if attacked.

How campers and hikers should handle food 

• Secure garbage can and dumpster lids

• Store food in locking bear boxes

• Not take food into tents overnight

• Wash up and change after preparing food

Bear sightings should be reported immediately to AZGFD at 623-236-7201 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.

Copyright 2017 KVOA


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