Wildlife Venturing Into Payson Neighborhoods

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Grace and George Mootsey have proof that living in the Rim country means encountering uninvited guests.

Their most recent encounter was a bear who came to breakfast.

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Having a bear come to breakfast is quite the experience, the Mootseys of Colt Drive can attest to it. But as the drought continues the experience may become more common place.

"It was around 10 Saturday morning and he just came wandering down the hill to the back fence then made his way to the side fence. I called 911 and the police came," Grace said.

She said her dogs were doing a lot of barking before she and her husband saw the bear, so they must have sniffed him.

"He ran down Colt to Bridle Path and disappeared into the ranch back there," she said. It was a young male, she said.

Besides being visited by a bear for breakfast, the Mootseys have had a mountain lion, a red fox, javelina and even a mule deer visit their house.

"We have a pond recycling water," Grace said.

As the drought continues, more and more wildlife is coming into town looking for what is becoming scarce in the forest.

"We are experiencing bears coming into campgrounds and into town," said Arizona Game and Fish Field Supervisor Craig McMullen. "With an extended drought there are no groceries out there, so they come into town and search."

He said the best defense is to remove the things that attract wildlife, which is anything that can serve as food, water or shelter.

"Bears really key on bird feeders. The bird seed has a lot of nutrients that they need this time of year," he said. McMullen said either take the feeders down or empty them.

Another thing that presents a problem with the drought is having "free water" in a yard -- such as the Mootsey pond, a fountain, etc.

"It habituates wildlife to humans," McMullen said, "We want them to get their water in the wild, not in people's yards."

In addition to taking down or emptying bird feeders, he suggested keeping pet food inside and also keeping garbage cans in an enclosed space.

"Fences are no deterrent to bears," he said.

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