Bear Charges Officer, Killed in Tucson Foothills

Bear Charges Officer, Killed in Tucson Foothills

A bear was shot and killed by an Arizona Game and Fish officer last week near the Westin La Paloma Resort north Tucson.

That bear, which had been tagged and tracked for nearly a year, was was killed by a Game and Fish officer when it charged another officer.

The officer encountered the bear last week after reports of bear sightings the previous week on Mount Lemmon. Officials believe it may be the same bear that was photographed peering into a cabin window last Friday in the Mount Lemmon community of Summerhaven. By Tuesday, other sightings were reported in Tucson residential areas such as the foothills and in the wash that runs under Sunrise Drive and alongside the golf course at the Westin La Paloma. This was where the bear and the Game and Fish officer had their final confrontation.

The bear, which was relocated last summer from Greer in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona to a remote location north of Globe, was found rummaging for discarded food from humans on Mt. Lemmon and in several neighborhoods in the Tucson area. 

The bear had a history of encounters with humans in urban areas, so lethal action was a case of public safety, according to Arizona Game and Fish spokesman Mark Hart. When the bear charged the officer, it was a “clear-cut decision,” Hart said, adding that the bear was likely to be put down anyway.

Hart said that bears will often move around and even wind up back in their original place where they were first removed, but searching for food might have driven the bear southward this time. The bear is estimated to have traveled about 200 miles from its remote location outside Globe to the Tucson area over the past 10 months. Long distances are also not unusual for bears, Hart said.

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