Tue, Jan. 28

Bear facts on new Valley sighting

Only a few get to experience the firsthand sight of a black bear in Arizona.

But many in the Verde Valley are able to catch a glimpse of the majestic animals in their own backyard.

A number of bear sightings have recently been reported in and around Cottonwood but Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Manager Tom Bagley says the bears are scared of humans and are simply in town looking for food.

According to Bagley, two bears have already been caught this year. One was trapped in Camp Verde and the other was located in the Verde Village. The black bear in Camp Verde had killed sheep in the area and ultimately was put down.

Bagley also caught the one in the Verde Village and released it in the Bradshaw Mountain area. That bear got pretty mischievous in town and reportedly ransacked some local beehives.

"He caused about $800 worth of damage," Bagley said.

A new bear has been sighted a few times and is currently on the loose. The most recent sighting occurred last week in the Verde Villages and in Cottonwood. Bagley said this one seems to be afraid of people and is mostly on the lookout for fruit trees.

The summertime drought made it difficult for plants to grow in nearby wilderness areas, Bagley said. Since the black bears rely on berries, vegetation and fish for survival, their food is in short supply.

"It's been a pretty desperate situation for them this summer," Bagley said.

He suggests that people who have fruit trees pick up all fruit off the ground. He also recommends that people call the local police department if a bear is sighted.

A trap has been set on private property for over a week. Bagley said the trap he uses has a metal door that shuts behind the bear once it goes inside the trap. Since the trap is set near residential areas, Bagley is using one with a 45-pound door. He said he usually uses heavier ones if the trap is set away from people.

In residential areas it is suggested that homeowners:

• Put out garbage on the day of pick up, not the night before.

• Do not leave pet food out. Hang bird feeders out of the reach of bears.

• Keep barbecues clean and grease free.

Vegetable and compost piles are also known for attracting bears. The National Bear Conservation, Education and Wildlife Stewardship Campaign recommends not putting meat, fish and other scraps in compost piles. Adding lime to the pile can help to reduce odors and accelerate decomposition.

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