BE BEAR AWARE IN ARIZONA – Most states across the west are experiencing drought.  The lack of rainfall is impacting states in many ways.  Arizona is no exception.  In some areas, wildlife biologists are even having to transport water for wildlife.  However, a surprising impact is how the drought is affecting bears.

Increased Bear Activity

Arizona’s lack of rainfall is having an impact on where bears can access water.  It is also impacting the vegetation growth and where it grows.   The effects of these scenarios will change bear behavior.  Although bears are normally timid and afraid of humans, the lack of food and water will change their behavior.

“If a bear becomes habituated to getting food from trash cans and other human sources, it’s only a matter of time before it loses its fear of humans and begins to actively search out human food sources,” says Larry Phoenix, AZGFD region 2 (Flagstaff) supervisor. “At that point, the bear becomes a threat to public safety.”

Tourists and hunters alike must be mindful of the change in bear behavior.  As hunters are on the mountain in the coming months, they need to be prepared to see different bear behavior.  They must also be prepared to see bears in areas that they haven’t seen them in the past.  For the most part, they shouldn’t impact any hunts, but hunters need to be aware.

Tips From the AZGFD


  • Keep your food and attractants secured and inaccessible to bears. Do not keep food in your tent.
  • Don’t burn left-over food or trash on the grill.
  • Set up your campsite away from places where bears might forage for food, such as creeks, rivers and other bodies of water.


  • Don’t wear scented lotions, deodorant or perfumes.
  • Make noise or hike in groups.
  • If you take your pet hiking with you, keep it on a leash at all times.

In case of a bear encounter

  • Do NOT run.
  • Back away slowly while keeping your eyes on the bear.
  • Make yourself look bigger than you are by flaunting your arms or pulling your shirt/jacket up higher than your head.
  • Throw items and yell at the bear.
  • If attacked, fight back.
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