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Bear on Mt Lemmon caught by AZGFD

Posted at 10:20 PM, Aug 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-29 16:53:44-04

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has caught a young female bear after it had been spotted several times in the past few months on Mount Lemmon.

The bear was caught at Willow Canyon, about a mile away from Rose Canyon Lake. 

AZGFD says the bear will be relocated to the Bearizona Wildlife Park.  

AZ Game and Fish's Mark Hart explained finding and capturing this bear is a consistent struggle - but growing to be more and more important. Something that differentiates this bear from other ones is that it has lost it's fear of humans, according to Hart.

"We have been unsuccessful in trapping him to date, and he's totally unafraid of people," he said. "And that's a bad combination."

The department is expecting more than 200 campers on Labor Day Weekend. Hart says they want to capture this bear as fast as they can.

"This bear wants to source human food," Hart said. "Either by dumpster diving, knocking over garbage cans, as he did earlier this morning, or trying to get into a trailer."

In order to keep campers safe and aware, campsites are passing out pamphlets that explain how to avoid attracting bears. Some of those tips include keeping food locked up in the bear bins, changing clothes after cooking, and never bringing food into a tent.

Some campers explained they plan on paying a bit more attention, but a bear isn't going to stop them from camping. Richard Graham has seen a couple of bears before, and said he would always keep his distance and make sure his food was locked up.

"We have too much fun up here, and as long as you know what you're looking for and you know how to act around, then you're pretty safe," Graham said.

Another man who's camping with his young daughters and her friends -- Michael Mordecai -- explained he's not afraid of a bear.

"I'm not worried about seeing a bear today," he said. "We keep our food packed up in these bear boxes and don't leave anything out and exposed overnight."

If the department does end up catching this bear, which is about 60 pounds, according to Hart, it plans on relocating it away from people. However, if it becomes aggressive towards people, they may have no choice but to kill it, something Hart explained is not what the department wants to do.