The Arizona Game and Fish Department euthanized a 3-year-old female bear at Camp Geronimo Wednesday.
This is the second bear this year to be lethally removed from the Payson area after exhibiting habituation and no fear of humans, according to Game and Fish.
The most recent bear killed reportedly entered empty tents and raided garbage cans over a two-week period at the camp. Attempts to scare it off were unsuccessful.
AZGFD reported when they arrived on scene to set a trap, the bear was found at the camp for the third time that day. The bear was rummaging through a vacant tent and eating food found in a Boy Scout’s suitcase.
Attempts to scare the bear away from the tent with hazing methods including a Taser, were unsuccessful.
The bear was deemed an immediate threat to the safety of the more than 900 Scouts (ages 14-17) at the camp and was euthanized.
“Habituated bears that have become accustomed to human food and water sources, including trash and bird feeders, pose a safety risk to the public and will likely end in the removal of the bear, sometimes by lethal means,” said Wildlife Supervisor Jarrod McFarlin.
Under the department’s human-wildlife conflict policy, wildlife officers consider the bear’s behavior, age, sex and whether it’s a threat to human safety when determining when to relocate or lethally remove a bear.
AZGFD each year removes or relocates bears to minimize the risk to people and avoid euthanasia.
This is not always successful. Some 50 percent of all relocated bears return to the area they were captured, regardless of the distance.
According to a Gila County ordinance, it is unlawful to feed a bear or attract bears by “intentionally, negligently or recklessly placing water, garbage, refuse, human or animal food, or edibles in a place that is physically accessible to bears.”
Tips to reduce bear contact
• Keep all trash inside a secured area until collection day. If that’s not possible, keep food waste in a bag in the freezer and place those in the trash as close to collection time as possible.
• If you’ll be out of town or are a weekend visitor, ask a neighbor to place your trash out on collection day.
• Take bird feeders down at night.
• Keep pet food inside or remove all uneaten food.
For more information, visit www.azgfd.com.