Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: This juvenile bear was found wandering in the Central area on Monday. It was tranquilized and relocated to the Santa Teresa Mountain range.
By Jon Johnson
GRAHAM COUNTY – A juvenile bear found wandering in the Central area on Sunday was relocated to the Santa Teresa Mountain range.
A man called Graham County Dispatch at about 8:20 a.m. and advised seeing a bear in the roadway in the 5300 block of W. Central Rd. A deputy responded to the area and located the bear in a tree in a pecan grove off U.S. Highway 70.
Arizona Game & Fish arrived on the scene and tranquilized the bear and relocated him to the Santa Teresa Mountain range west of the Gila Valley.
Arizona Game & Fish Public Information Officer Mark Hart advised the juvenile black bear was a male about 1-1/2 years old and weighed about 125 pounds. Hart said the bear was likely looking for water in the area or had been displaced by an older bear protecting his territory. Hart believed the bear to be the same one that had been spotted several times recently. He added that the decision was made to relocate the bear since he was a juvenile.
“There’s a zero-tolerance policy for nuisance males, but females and young bears will get one or two chances for relocation,” Hart said. “It doesn’t always work. Bears being bears, they often walk back to where you moved them from, but, hopefully, that won’t occur in this case.”
Hart advised that the department placed an ear tag on the bear to keep track of him and to identify it if it turns up again.
In May 2020, two black bear encounters in Thatcher and Clifton ended with the bears being killed.
In the Thatcher incident, a juvenile black bear was found roaming around a residential and school area in Thatcher and was captured and euthanized.
In the Clifton incident, deputies with the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office shot a bear that had been deemed as wandering too close to a residential area. The 5- or 6-year-old male bear weighing about 265 pounds was shot while in the area of Mares Bluff and tumbled down the hillside.
The black bear is the only bear species still found in Arizona and generally hibernates from November through March. They are omnivores with a range of between 7 – 50 square miles and mostly live in woodland habitats in Arizona. While they are called black bears, they range in color from black to brown and even blonde in some cases, with males growing up to about 350 pounds and females to about 250 pounds.