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Game & Fish could kill aggressive bear in Madera Canyon

Posted at 11:45 AM, Oct 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-23 23:57:17-04

MADERA CANYON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Several trails in Madera Canyon will be closed until mid-November after hikers reported several encounters with a dangerous bear.

Arizona Game & Fish officials say a large bear charged at hikers on the Old Brady trail reported on October 17.

Mark Hart with AZGF says they are unable to bring a trap up the mountain because of the rough terrain. Management is working to figure out how to access the problem. They may begin using hounds to track the bear. 

Officials say that if they don't find the bear, trail closures might extend through December when bears calm down and go into hibernation.

"There is definitely a possibility that the bear will be euthanized," said Hart. "We don't have a lot of options with a bear that's been this aggressive over 6 to 8 weeks." 

Hikers have submitted several photos of the bear over the past few weeks. It is described as black or brown in color and weighing between 150-200 pounds. 

Hart says that simply relocating the bear won't necessarily solve the problem. 

"Unfortunately bear relocation only works 50% of the time. We saw that back in 2012 when there were bears in the Huachuca Mountains where we moved four and two returned within a matter of days to the same area. So it doesn't always work. Part of the difference between that situation and this one is the bears in Sierra Vista were not being anywhere near as aggressive as this one was. It charged within 5 to 10 feet of hikers. He's very, very dangerous. He's big enough to cause serious harm."

With such a large bear population on the mountain, they are trying to correctly identify the bear that's been causing the issue. 

"There's a lot of bears up there," said Hart. "So, we have to be sure we got the right bear. We do have good photos, we know it's color and approximate weight. We know the area it's been frequenting, but there are other bears up there so it's gonna be a little tricky if we're going to pursue the lethal removal option."