Game and Fish: High country visitors should keep food away from bears

By Ron Dungan
Published: Friday, May 12, 2023 - 1:20pm

As temperatures rise, bears in the high country have begun to leave their dens, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department says people should do what they can to avoid interacting with them.

Each spring, bears leave their dens to search for food. Although they typically avoid people, they have big appetites and follow their nose, which can draw them to campsites or vacation homes.

Game and Fish urges campers to put food out of reach when they visit the high country and to never keep food in their tents.

That includes coolers, trash, toothpaste and pet food.

Shawn Wagner of the Arizona Game and Fish Department says that bears can quickly lose their fear of humans.

"It doesn't take very long till they just establish that’s way easier than walking all over the mountains looking for berries, or grubs or scavenging on some carrion somewhere," Wagner said.

He says most problem bears are juveniles, who are still learning the ropes.

"Once a bear gets a taste for hitting garbage cans or dog food piles outside every back porch you know and stuff like that, it’s kind of hard to get them off of that," Wagner said.