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Oh, my! Game & Fish warns visitors about lions, bears in Santa C - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Oh, my! Game & Fish warns visitors about lions, bears in Santa Catalina Mountains

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Mountain lion and bear encounters have prompted the Arizona Game and Fish Department to urge visitors to use caution while hiking in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

A bear peered into an occupied cabin Saturday near Summerhaven, and another bear took backpacks from a camp Thursday and Friday near the Arizona and Red Ridge trails, according to Game and Fish. The campers were away when the bear entered the camp.

"Those bears have clearly begun to associate the presence of people with food," said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. "We want campers to be especially bear aware this weekend."

 Food should be stored in locking bear boxes that campgrounds provide, and never taken into tents overnight. Campers should wash up and change after preparing food, as bears have a keen sense of smell.

Mountain lions

 Hikers also should be aware of mountain lion activity in Lower Sabino Canyon and surrounding residential areas, Vega said.

"If you’ve never seen a mountain lion, that doesn’t mean one hasn’t seen you," Vega said. "If you do see one nearby, don’t stop to take a photo or move closer to get a better look.  Get big, and try to scare it off."

Here are some tips for dealing with dangerous wildlife:

  • If bears or mountain lions are seen from a distance, hikers should change their route to avoid contact. 
  • If approached by either, discourage contact by standing upright, waving arms overhead, making loud noises, maintaining direct eye contact, throwing objects on hand, and giving the animal an opportunity to leave the area. 
  • If it does not leave, stay calm, face the animal, and slowly back away. 
  • Never run or play dead, and fight back if attacked.

  Such sightings should be reported immediately to AZGFD at 623-236-7201, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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