Arizona Bear-Proofing Many Campgrounds

April 23, 2013 by · Comments Off on Arizona Bear-Proofing Many Campgrounds 

There have only been 10 bear attacks in Arizona since 1990. But the attack at Ponderosa Campground on June 24, 2012, marked the second incident at that very campsite and the third in the state over a one-month span.

In response to last year’s attacks, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is working with the U.S. Forest Service to bear-proof Payson-area campgrounds and raise awareness about the dangers that may arise any time for those camping in bear country, the Tucson Sentinel reported.

“The big thing is to be bear-aware,” said Rachael Hohl, recreation manager for the Tonto National Forest’s Payson Ranger District.

As part of the “Bear Aware” campaign, signs, pamphlets and brochures with information and safety tips can now be found throughout Ponderosa and other area campgrounds.

So far, the Forest Service has equipped 27 of 260 area campsites with metal storage containers for food, while campgrounds have bear-proof trash receptacles, Hohl said.

Dave Daniels, Payson wildlife manager for Game and Fish, said keeping scents that attract bears out of campsites is a big part of the campaign.

“Don’t bring your Snickers bars or dirty diapers into your tent,” he said. “Bears, or any animal with a large rostrum (nose), will be attracted by smell, so that means food, garbage or anything it thinks it can eat.”

Daniels cited last year’s severe drought as the main reason for so much bear activity in such a short time.

“The water not only provides drinking water for them but it also provides food for them because all the plant life they eat needs rain to grow,” he said. “So when there’s a drought, there’s a lack of water and food and that’s when some of your wildlife starts to wander.”

The drought is less pronounced this year, Daniels said, and because the sites are more bear-proof now, campers should not be deterred from visiting the area.

According to wildlife experts, black bear attacks are rare and fatal attacks are extremely uncommon. A woman walking her dog late at night was fatally mauled in Pinetop two years ago; before that, Arizona’s last documented fatality was in the late 1800s.

If a bear does attack, officials say it’s important to stand up, raise your arms and shout while backing away.

The offending bear in the 2012 attacks still hasn’t been found, but officials are keeping an eye out for it.

“If he is still out there, he’s likely to return to doing what he knows, which happens to be raiding campgrounds and causing these kinds of problems,” said Randy Babb, information and education program manager for Game and Fish’s Mesa region.

Hohl noted that the possibility of running into a bear is remote.

“Mostly what you see of bears is their butts because they’re usually running away,” she said. “That being said, it’s important to remember that as humans, we’re guests in a bear’s environment.”



Authorities Nab Wrong Bears; Attacker Still At Large

July 11, 2012 by · Comments Off on Authorities Nab Wrong Bears; Attacker Still At Large 

Genetic testing has indicated the bear that severely injured a man last month remains on the loose, clearing all three bears killed by state hunters after a string of three attacks near campgrounds south of Highway 260 near Christopher Creek in central Arizona.

Officials said they would re-evaluate the order that closed Ponderosa, Sharp Creek and Christopher Creek campgrounds on July 15, the Payson Roundup reported.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say they have yet to make contact with a black bear that pulled a 30-year-old Tempe man from his tent by the scalp June 24 at Ponderosa Campground.

Officials didn’t have enough DNA samples from the bears that attacked two other campers earlier to tie any of the attacks to the three bears killed after hounds picked up their scents in Tonto Village or near the Ponderosa Campground shortly after the attack.

Meanwhile, game and fish officials and sheriff’s deputies have fielded a number of reports of bear sightings in Christopher Creek, East Valley Estates and elsewhere — but have reported no fresh attacks or conflicts.

Jim Paxon, chief of information with game and fish, said two game officers are still patrolling the areas around Ponderosa Campground and Thompson Draw, but have not sighted any bears. The officers have set out baited traps near the campgrounds, but so far haven’t caught any any bears.

“The Forest Service is going to have to decide if it is going to reopen the campgrounds if we don’t have a bear in hand by the 15th,” he said. “I don’t know what they will do.”

The Forest Service briefly closed Ponderosa after a bear clawed its way through a couple’s tent May 31. A woman sleeping inside was clawed on the head.

On June 21, a bear bit a man sleeping in a garage in the Thompson Draw II subdivision a mile from the campground. The bear’s teeth barely penetrated the man’s leg.

Then on June 24, a bear pulled Peter Baca from his tent, barely missing a 1-year-old child also sleeping in the tent. Baca underwent surgeries but should recover.

Game officers tracked and killed three bears, two young males and an adult female. However, the DNA sample cleared all three in the Baca attack. Officials have no way to determine whether any of the bears had any role in the other two attacks because they didn’t leave behind useable traces of DNA.

Paxton said the bear in the Baca attack displayed such aggressive behavior that game and fish must find a way to kill it.

“We have a real need to collect this bear because the attack on Mr. Baca was severe and we need to get this bear in hand.”

Game and fish set up traps, snares and a baiting station near Ponderosa Campground.

A sharp rise in the number of bear sighting calls has demonstrated a lot of bears remain in the area, but game and fish says it is having trouble finding them.

A good dose of rain could solve most of the problems, said Paxton. “The big problem is until we get the monsoons and grow some foliage, there isn’t anything for the bears to eat,” he said.

“We are really asking the public to their keep guard up.”

If a bear crosses your path, get big and make lots of noise. Move away slowly and refrain from running. Officials estimate there is a bear in every 1 1/2 to 2 square miles in Rim Country.

“We have a very vigorous bear population in Arizona,” he said. “They are important to the ecology, but they need to be acting like bears are supposed to.”


DNA Test: 2 of 3 Bears Guiltless in June 24 Attack

June 29, 2012 by · Comments Off on DNA Test: 2 of 3 Bears Guiltless in June 24 Attack 

DNA results on two of three black bears killed by Arizona Game and Fish officers confirmed that neither of the bears was involved in Sunday’s (June 24) attack at the Ponderosa Campground, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported

Lab technicians could not say if the bears were involved in other attacks on May 31 and June 21 because there wasn’t enough DNA material on those victims’ belongings to draw at a conclusion.

Testing of bear hair samples from Sunday’s attack confirmed that the bear in that case is a male. Specialists said additional DNA analysis is under way using different samples from that incident in attempt to arrive at a more conclusive decision.

“We meticulously attempted to remove any available DNA samples from the first two victims’ personal belongings and submitted quite a few hairs, said Dr. Anne Justice-Allen, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s wildlife veterinarian.

“Unfortunately, the samples were hair that was shed, not plucked or pulled, which means there was no root and no DNA material,” Justice-Allen said. “So, it could be that one of the bears removed was involved in one or both of the first two attacks.”

The analysis was done by the nationally recognized Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensics and Fish Health Laboratory in Laramie, Wyo.

Wildlife officers from Game and Fish and personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services killed the three black bears in the past week in the vicinity around where the attacks occurred. Dogs tracked them from scent trails found near the site of the attacks.

Rabies tests carried out by the Arizona Department of Health Services on all three animals came back negative.

The first and third attack occurred on May 31 and June 24, respectively, at the Ponderosa Campground 10 miles east of Payson. The second attack took place on June 21 in Tonto Village, the Thompson Draw II subdivision, which is approximately one mile north of the Ponderosa Campground.

A 74-year-old female camper was attacked May 31 and a 30-year-old Tempe man was attacked June 24 in the same area. The June 21 attack injured Jason Amperse, 29, of Glendale, who asleep in a cabin under construction near Payson. He suffered a bite mark on his right leg and claw marks on his left leg.

Tonto National Forest officials have temporarily closed all six campgrounds in the Payson ranger district until at least July 15 because of the bear attacks.


3 Bears Suspected in Attacks Test Negative for Rabies

June 28, 2012 by · Comments Off on 3 Bears Suspected in Attacks Test Negative for Rabies 

DNA tests on three black bears that were killed near Payson have come back negative for the rabies virus, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, reported.

The bears are thought to be connected to three attacks in the Payson area in the last month, but officials are awaiting separate DNA test results for confirmation. If any of the bears are matched to the attacks, then the victims won’t need a series of rabies vaccines.

Rabies testing was necessary to determine if the victims were exposed to the virus and can only be conducted on a deceased animal, making it necessary to lethally remove the bears.

Rabies is almost always fatal if an exposed person doesn’t get a vaccine in time.

A 74-year-old woman sleeping in a tent in the Ponderosa Campground was attacked May 31. A construction worker was attacked June 21 while he was sleeping in an unfinished cabin in the Thompson Draw II community near Tonto Village. A 30-year-old Tempe man was attacked by a bear June 24 while sleeping in a tent in the Ponderosa Campground.

The Ponderosa, Christopher Creek and Sharp Creek campgrounds, all located along Highway 260, will remain closed until the Arizona Game and Fish Department feels confident campers are safe from further bear attacks.

Drought, Wildfires Force Bears into Campgrounds

June 27, 2012 by · Comments Off on Drought, Wildfires Force Bears into Campgrounds 

The following story is courtesy of KPHO-TV, Phoenix.

The recent string of bear attacks in Arizona’s high country has some folks re-thinking their camping trips for the holiday. It has everyone asking: Is it safe to go camping?

“You can see how strong these guys are,” said Linda Searles with the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. “They decide, they know, that if they go into that campground, they’re going to be rewarded.”

She said the bears like fish and fruit and they love peanut butter. But bears are going after much more than what’s in your camping pantry.

“We have three confirmed attacks since May 31,” said Tim Holt with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

They’re going after people. And three bears have been killed because of it. Arizona Game and Fish Department officials don’t yet know if the bears were involved in the attacks, but they aren’t taking any chances.

“Until we can get that evidence and the bears analyzed, we will continue to search for additional bears,” he said.

On May 31, a sleeping camper was attacked at the Ponderosa Campground.

On Thursday night, a man sleeping in an unfinished cabin near Payson was attacked.

And Sunday morning, a man sleeping next to his fiancée and infant son was attacked at the Ponderosa campground and is in a hospital in critical condition.

“Everything, any food source is going to attract bears right now,” Searles said.

She added that with the fires in Arizona and the drought, bears are going into campgrounds looking for food. With that in mind, is it safe to enjoy the high country this summer?

“Just as if you were going to another country, you want to educate yourself on the culture and what was out there on the locals,” she said. “Well, you go out into the forest, these are the locals!”

She added you must be smart about camping. Bring bear-proof containers, don’t wear fragrant deodorants or perfumes and avoid the Ponderosa area in the meantime.

For more information on bear safety, visit: and

Bear Count Reaches Three in Arizona

June 26, 2012 by · Comments Off on Bear Count Reaches Three in Arizona 

Arizona authorities have now killed three bears in the Tonto National Forest after three attacks on three people since May 31 in the Payson area. Since 1990, there have now been a total of 10 confirmed bear attacks within the state, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported.

Game and Fish Department officials said two packs of hound dogs picked up the scents Sunday night (June 24) of two bears near the Ponderosa Campground, the site of the recent attacks.

One male American black bear was found one mile below the campground and one large adult female was found in Hellsgate Wilderness.

The hounds chased the bears into trees and officials fatally shot both of the bears.

The third bear was killed by Game and Fish ground crew.

Authorities said they are conducting tests on the dead bears to determine if they have the ones involved in the non-fatal attacks.

Tonto National Forest officials have temporarily closed all six campgrounds in the Payson ranger district until at least July 15 because of the bear attacks. They recommended campgrounds in the Coconino and Apache Sitgraves national forests for people who desire to camp.

Authorities Kill 2 Bears in Arizona; May Be Linked to Attacks

June 25, 2012 by · Comments Off on Authorities Kill 2 Bears in Arizona; May Be Linked to Attacks 

Two bears that may be linked to three recent attacks in the area of Payson, Ariz., have been tracked and killed, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Dogs picked up their scents Sunday night (June 24) south of the Ponderosa Campground in the Tonto National Forest, which is the site of the recent attacks, reported.

Game and Fish spokesman Jim Paxon said an adult male bear about 160 pounds was caught one mile south of the campground at 9:25 p.m. Sunday and a large adult female was found three miles south of the campground in the Hellsgate Wilderness at about 1:30 a.m. today.

DNA testing will confirm if these bears were the ones involved in the attacks on two men and one woman.

Peter Baca, 30, of Tempe, is in critical condition but is expected to survive after he was attacked by a bear Sunday morning while sleeping in a tent in the Ponderosa Campground. Baca suffered serious wounds to his head and arm, as well as a broken hand and severed ear.

A construction worker was attacked by a bear while he was sleeping in an unfinished cabin in the Tonto Village area Thursday night. Jason Amperse received bite marks and scratches on his legs.

A bear attacked a 74-year-old woman sleeping in a tent in the Ponderosa Campground May 31. The bear reportedly stuck its head in and clawed at the woman, leaving her with bruises and a laceration on her scalp.

Officials estimate that there are 2,500 to 3,000 bears in Arizona.

Forest officials have temporarily closed the Ponderosa Campground, the Christopher Creek Campground and the Sharp Creek Campground in response to the attacks.

Bear Attacks Sleeping Camper in Arizona

June 25, 2012 by · Comments Off on Bear Attacks Sleeping Camper in Arizona 

Another camper was attacked by a bear Sunday morning (June 24) in the Ponderosa Campground, according to officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The victim, a 30-year-old man from Tempe, was asleep at the time of the attack. The man was hospitalized in critical condition, but he is expected to survive, reported.

The man’s fiance and 1-year-old child were also present during the attack, but they were able to escape without any injuries.

Another camper in the area chased the bear away by shooting at the animal multiple times. It’s not known if the bear was hit by any bullets.

U.S. Forest Service personnel evacuated the campground this morning, and wildlife officers from the Arizona Game and Fish Department and personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services are currently searching for the bear.

“Extensive efforts are being made to locate and remove the animal for the public’s safety, which is our top priority,” said Rod Lucas, regional supervisor for Game and Fish.

If the bear is captured, it will be lethally removed because of the aggressive, predatory behavior the bear exhibited and the need for disease testing.

Sunday’s bear attack was the third in the past two months. In response to the incident, Tonto National Forest officials have announced that the Ponderosa Campground, the Christopher Creek Campground, and the Sharp Creek Campground will be temporarily closed.

The closure will remain in effect until Aug. 31.

The Ponderosa Campground was closed for two weeks earlier this month after a bear clawed a woman sleeping in a tent on May 31.

This past Friday, a construction worker in the Thompson Draw area was attacked by a bear while he slept.

“At this point there is no way of telling if the bear in this morning’s attack was involved in either of the other two incidents,” said Lucas. “We’ll know more if we’re able to remove the bear and do DNA and other testing.”

With the state’s drought and scarce wildlife food resources, more and more wildlife are moving into areas that are on the fringe of wildlands, looking for food. Bears are particularly attracted to areas where humans are because of the often easy access to garbage, food and gardens.

It is important that outdoor recreationists be “bear aware.” Secure all food sources, cooking gear and trash well away from camps and tents when recreating in bear areas. Bears are attracted to areas with dumpsters, trash bins and campsites with food.

Bear attacks on humans are rare. This is only the 10th documented bear attack in Arizona since 1990, but the third this year.

Bear Gives Young Girl Big Scare in Campground

June 15, 2012 by · Comments Off on Bear Gives Young Girl Big Scare in Campground 

A young girl on a camping trip got quite the scare after a black bear ripped opened her tent and even scratched her, KRQE-TV, Albuquerque, N.M., reported.

Officials say the incident happened on Wednesday (June 13) at the Ponderosa Campground in Bandelier National Park near Los Alamos, N.M.

The bear was believed to be going after a tube of toothpaste and lip balm inside the tent, officials say the bear was likely not trying to hurt the child. Luckily the bear’s scratch did not break the child’s skin.

At this time that campground has been closed and crews have set a trap for the bear. If it’s caught Game and Fish will put the bear down.

Rick Winslow, with New Mexico Game and Fish, said “So we can determine if it has rabies or anything like that and also just for human safety. A bear that is willing to go into a tent after whatever it smells in that tent, is dangerous.”

Officials say the burnt forest left from last summer’s Las Conchas fire and drought conditions may lead to more bear sightings this year.

They ask campers to not keep food or anything that smells inside their tents.

RV Park and Campground Briefs

June 14, 2012 by · Comments Off on RV Park and Campground Briefs 


From The Peninsula Daily News:

Contractors will use a series of controlled blasts to lower the Glines Canyon Dam in July, necessitating a safety-related closure of Altair Campground.

The campground will close on the evening of July 1 and will remain closed through the entire month.

“Dam removal contractor Barnard Construction will be working steadily throughout the month of July to lower Glines Canyon Dam,” said Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent Todd Suess.

“With the rest of the summer work season restricted by ‘fish windows,’ Barnard needs to maximize their efforts throughout July.”

Controlled blasting will result in more a sudden water release than the hydraulic hammer previously used in the removal work at Glines Canyon Dam.

“While we regret the inconvenience to our visitors, safety concerns dictate that we must close Altair Campground for the month of July,” explained Suess.

Visitors are reminded that the Glines Canyon Dam and the former Elwha Dam site are still active construction areas and are closed to all public entry.


From KPHO-TV, Phoenix:

A Northern Arizona campground where a bear attacked a woman this month has reopened.

Tonto National Forest officials said there have been no signs of the bear returning to the Ponderosa Campground following the May 31 attack. The campground is just off Highway 260 about 10 miles east of Payson.

A 74-year-old woman awoke in her tent to a bear clawing at her. Officials said after tearing open the tent, the bear reportedly stuck its head in and clawed at the woman. She had bruises and a laceration on her scalp.

The bear they have been looking for is considered a category one bear, which means it is aggressive enough to be destroyed if it is found or captured, said Game and Fish Wildlife Manager Jarrod McFarlin.

Arizona Game and Fish officials said the strategies they employed to catch the animal did not work. They cautioned the public there have been more bear sightings reported this year because of the ongoing drought.


From the Sturgis Journal:

Cade Lake and Nottawa parks would be the primary areas patrolled by the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department if a funding request from county officials is approved next week.

At a special meeting Tuesday of the St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Commission, members agreed to ask the county commission for an allocation of about $6,000. That would cover expenses for a part-time deputy to patrol the two parks, which are the only county parks with campsites.

Coverage would center on Nottawa Park at Sand Lake and Cade Lake Park in Fawn River Township.

Parks and rec commission member Jerry Ware, liaison to the county commission, said he’s aware that the two campgrounds occasionally draw guests who sometimes disregard park rules and dismiss requests from on-site park managers to abide by instructions.

He said more problems — including cases of drunkenness — seem to come from Nottawa Park than Cade Lake Park.

Ware said rangers have only so much authority and the presence of a sworn deputy might discourage conduct and violations contradicting park rules.


From The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.:

Kit Price and Devils Elbow Campgrounds are temporarily closed to the public while construction crews work to improve the campground water systems and repave roads, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests announced today.

The popular campgrounds on the North Fork of the Cour d’Alene River about 40 miles north of I-90 at Kingston are scheduled to reopen in July.


Next Page »