Bear attack at Tonto Village near Payson
Valley man sustains non-life-threatening injuries
PHOENIX -- An Arizona man was injured last night when a bear bit his lower leg while he was sleeping on a cot in a cabin under construction in Tonto Village, east of Payson.
The bear entered the unfinished cabin and climbed on top of the man, biting him through his pajamas. The man moved and yelled. The bear ran off, but lingered in the nearby area for approximately 45 minutes. One other man was present at the cabin when the incident occurred.
Based on the bite mark measurements, Arizona Game and Fish Department officers believe the bear was a large adult male.
Game and Fish officers will continue to investigate the incident and will set culvert traps in the vicinity to attempt to capture the bear. The department is also working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to track the bear.
“Due to the predatory nature and bold behavior of this bear, extensive effort will be extended to attempt to locate the animal for the public’s safety, which is our top priority,” said Rod Lucas, regional supervisor for Game and Fish. “With the state’s drought and scarce 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.”
If the offending bear is captured, it will be lethally removed because of the aggressive, predatory behavior it demonstrated and the need for disease testing.
Tonto Village is approximately one mile from the campground where a bear entered a tent and clawed a woman on May 31, 2012. The woman’s injuries were non-life-threatening. Despite tracking and trapping efforts by Game and Fish and Wildlife Services, that bear was never trapped.
Bears are very active during the summer, and it is important that outdoor recreationists stay alert. Be bear aware and secure all food sources, cooking gear and trash when living in or recreating in bear areas. Bears are attracted to areas with dumpsters, trash bins and campsites with food.
Bear attacks on humans are rare. There have only been eight documented cases of bear attacks in Arizona since 1990, including this one.