Oct 29, 2012 2:42 AM by John Patrick
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. - Arizona Game and Fish officials want Cochise County residents to do their part in staying bear aware this Halloween.
Over the past three months Game and Fish has received nearly one hundred bear related calls from the towns of Sierra Vista and Hereford, calls that range from bears rummaging through trash to trying to get inside homes. In just the past two weeks alone public safety concerns forced Game and Fish officials to put down two bears. In fact, according to Brad Fulk with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, this is one of the most active years for bear sightings in nearly six years.
Fulk explains, "We've seen years such as this year where the bears don't respond to the dry out and cooler nights. So we're still getting bear calls on a regular and daily basis."
Dry winters and wildfires have led to a meager food source which is pushing the bears out of the Huachuca Mountains and into the surrounding cities in search of an easy meal. Bears aren't only going to be attracted to unsecured trash cans or bird feeders but the Halloween jack-o-lanterns as well.
Fulk says," The pumpkin specifically is a great food source; it's been proven in the past. We've had issues with bears during the Halloween season being attracted to those food sources."
With it already being such an active bear year officials are asking that you keep the pumpkins inside on the window sill to avoid more human and bear interaction. It's also important to remain bear aware as you head out to do your trick or treating. "Have a realistic approach and know that we are having bears down low in neighborhoods," urges Fulk.
Other preventative measures that need to be taken to avoid more bear sightings include keeping your garbage can locked up until the day of pick up, bringing in the bird feeders at night and removing any outdoor pet food. Anyone who is knowingly attracting or feeding wildlife such as bears, javelina or coyotes could wind up with a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail.