More Bears Killed Near Sierra Vista

Gentry Braswell, San Pedro Valley News-Sun, September 13, 2006

A Ramsey Canyon nuisance bear thought to have been wounded by a gunshot in late August returned to the same residence Thursday morning, and this time it was shot and killed. The motor home of a U.S. Forest Service employee also was ransacked Wednesday by a bear at the Carr House in Carr Canyon, and the bear was shot and killed after the animal charged at the owner. “They always do. If they get in once, they come back,” said Zac Ribbing, a local Forest Service trails foreman who owns the motor home.

The two bear killings follow two bears being killed last week. The Arizona Game and Fish Department says a mix of illegal immigrant leftovers and lower than normal natural food supplies are causing bears to look for other sources of food.

Bear at motor home

At 11:05 a.m. Wednesday, a passing motorist phoned the Forest Service after seeing a 3-year-old male bear attempting to enter the motor home.

Ribbing was at the Sierra Vista Forest Service office when the call came in. He and colleagues arrived at the motor home about 11:20 a.m.

Five people threw things at the bear and yelled at it, trying to scare the animal from the motor home. The bear had entered the trailer through the side entrance door and was inside scavenging for food when the people arrived, according to a report on Thursday by Arizona Game and Fish Department Field Supervisor Kurt Kahti.

The bear did not appear to be frightened by their actions and continued to eat food from the trailer’s cupboards.

Ribbing shot at the bear while it was in the motor home, trying to scare the bear away, but it didn’t work.

After that, someone sprayed the bear with a fire extinguisher and the bear left the motor home, though it charged the owner when it exited.

Ribbing shot the bear again with the .357-caliber pistol, striking the animal with a single bullet in the chest. The animal continued about 35 yards, then fell down, but was still moving, according to the report. The bear was shot once more and died.

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Contributors to recent bear activity

The Forest Ranger whose trailer was ransacked by a bear last Wednesday talked about these bears that have grown fearless of people.

The visit by the bear at his trailer was the first Zac Ribbing knew of by that particular bear, he said.

The bear ate some of the Forest Ranger’s groceries before being interrupted.

“He had a couple apples, and some tortillas,” he said. “He pried the door right out of the middle, actually, kind of peeled it open.”

First, the bear tried to get in to the trailer through the skylights, he said.

Arizona Game and Fish noted a few conditions which might be contributing to the high activity of bears in local urban-wildlife interfaces this summer.

Such contributors to this kind of bear action are often a lack of food on the mountain, the presence of food and attractants in the residential areas, and the acclimation of bears to humans due in part to the presence of undocumented aliens passing through the mountain, Kahti’s report said.

“Their (undocumented alien) camps have a large amount of trash. Bears lost their fear of humans and find that humans carry and leave food behind,” the report said.

“The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a policy handling nuisance bears,” according to Kahti’s release.

“Those that do not yield to humans and break into hard sided structures are the highest category and are euthanized as a public safety threat. This bear qualified for that action.” Fish and Game said this season is typically the time of year bears should be putting on fat for the winter hibernation, but that does not appear to be taking place. Rather, it appears many bears are using their fat reserve instead of adding to it.

Furthermore, since last winter’s rains were light in Southeastern Arizona, food sources such as acorns, prickly-pear fruit and manzanita berries were not produced, leaving bears to search for other food sources, the report said.

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