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Bear danger closes two trails near Madera Canyon

Posted at 7:38 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-08 12:36:08-04
MADERA CANYON, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - You might hike right into trouble on two trails near Madera Canyon. 
 
The chance you'll run into a bear way too willing to get close to people prompted the Forest Service to close two trails there.
 
The rest of the area is open as usual.
 
The Forest Service takes action when bears get too comfortable with humans.
 
Bears are a natural part of life at Madera Canyon.  If a hiker sees a bear at all, it's probably going to be an 'Isn't that cool?' experience you see from a nice, safe distance. Now at least one bear is coming so close that people are getting worried.
 
The Forest Service is ordering people off of the Old Baldy and Super Trails because of a bear. These trails are in the Santa Rita Mountains above Madera Canyon. 
        
Hikers say it came much too close three times, one hiker said the bear was in a tree growling at her, then helped itself to the food in her backpack when she dropped it and ran.
        
Sue Clore got on the trail got on the trial not knowing there was a bear warning.  She entered the trail in a spot where there was no warning posted.
 
"My friend texted me when I was up there.  I just happened to hear my phone dig and I looked at it and she said, 'I hope you're not hiking in Madera Canyon.' And I texted her back, 'yes we are.'”
 
Game and Fish warns people not to leave even a trace of food where it might attract bears
 
Heidi Schewel of the Forest Service says if a bear gets too close do not run.  It will make the bear want to chase you.
 
"If the bear gets close to you you want to look intimidating.  You want to look big.  If you have a cloak or a coat or something to flap around, put your arms out.  Look big.  If it starts to approach you back away slowly. If you have something to make noise with, make noise.  The one thing you don't want to do is turn and run."
     
In August, a bear was coming too close to people on Mount Lemmon. Game and Fish set a trap, which the bear conveniently closed on herself.  
 
That bear was moved to a preserve in Northern Arizona. But the Madera Canyon bear is in terrain too rough for that sort of trap.

Game and Fish says bear sightings should be reported immediately to AZGFD at 623-236-7201. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Black bears usually avoid people, but Game and Fish says they are attracted to human food and trash.

Game and Fish provided the following tips to campers:

  • Keeping a clean camp or picnic site.
  • Stowing food, pet food, trash and picnic coolers out of sight and out of smell range of bears.
  • Utilizing bear-proof food and trash receptacles where provided.
  • Washing and stowing cooking utensils immediately following use.
  • Not taking odorous items (toothpaste, lotions, etc.) or clothing used while cooking into tents.
  • Keeping pets leashed.
  • Avoiding contact with bears.