Should we be worried about bears in Tonto?

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My family car camps a lot in the remote places our GX takes us... Apparently there are bear at higher elevations (4 - 7k').

How much of a going concern do you think that is? i.e. do we need to avoid keeping food in the vehicle for fear bear will break in??
 
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I've spent 100+ nights camping in Tonto NF over the last few years, never once have I seen a bear. Obviously, still be cautious, but Arizona's black bear population aren't known to be particularly curious or aggressive towards humans.

Edit: Ignorance
 
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JunkCrzr89

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I was a Bear Biologist for 10 years. Keep your campsite clean and all attractants (food, garbage, toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick, etc) locked up and secured from dusk till dawn. As long as the windows are completely up and the doors locked, then your vehicle can effectively serve as the “lockbox” for securing attractants. Leave a window cracked or a door unlocked and a bear will get in and destroy the interior (they particularly like eating the foam inside seats).


Arizona's black bear population aren't known to be particularly curious or aggressive towards humans.
You never know what experiences a bear has had prior to your arrival at a given campsite. The previous occupants could have fed it, or they didn’t secure attractants and the bear got a treat. They are very acutely aware of associations - one human feeds them and they expect all humans to feed them. And there have been multiple bear attacks in the Tonto NF, as well as multiple fatal attacks in Arizona in general, over the last 10 years.
 
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You never know what experiences a bear has had prior to your arrival at a given campsite. The previous occupants could have fed it, or they didn’t secure attractants and the bear got a treat. They are very acutely aware of associations - one human feeds them and they expect all humans to feed them. And there have been multiple bear attacks in the Tonto NF, as well as multiple fatal attacks in Arizona in general, over the last 10 years.
Good point, I shouldn't have attributed my experiences to being factual. I have had many bear encounters due to over a decade living in Alaska, visits to British Columbia, and Colorado... but none in Arizona, which probably skewed my views regarding our populations here. So, I edited my original posting with a strikethrough.

I am always on a higher alert when I am staying in developed camp grounds, relating to the ease of access to dumpsters, people being less cautious about food, and other preventative measures.

So OP, definitely follow more with what Junk is saying.

Bonus, this black bear woke me up trying to get into my Artic cooler last summer in Lake City, CO and I am happy to report he was unsuccessful (really happy with the cooler overall, thanks for the great deal by TheGrrrrr on that). As for the people one campsite over who simply left their food out in an uncovered plastic tote... they had to make a trip to the store for groceries to get them through the rest of their trip.

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I was a Bear Biologist for 10 years. Keep your campsite clean and all attractants (food, garbage, toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick, etc) locked up and secured from dusk till dawn. As long as the windows are completely up and the doors locked, then your vehicle can effectively serve as the “lockbox” for securing attractants. Leave a window cracked or a door unlocked and a bear will get in and destroy the interior (they particularly like eating the foam inside seats).



You never know what experiences a bear has had prior to your arrival at a given campsite. The previous occupants could have fed it, or they didn’t secure attractants and the bear got a treat. They are very acutely aware of associations - one human feeds them and they expect all humans to feed them. And there have been multiple bear attacks in the Tonto NF, as well as multiple fatal attacks in Arizona in general, over the last 10 years.
That.

When im camping, everything stays in the truck including dirty dishes. When backpacking, all food goes in a rat sack and I hang it at least 15ft up and 100+ yards from camp. I also hang my backpack the same, but in a different location. This is to keep all critters out of my stuff, not just bears.

I have spent a lot of time in Montana, I have still seen more bears in AZ than MT. Certain areas in the tonto like Pine mountain, the Matazals and Sierra Anchas have a substantial population. I have never seen a bear on mount ord, but one year archery javelina hunting on the east slope on the ridges that run down to tonto creek I saw several hundred piles of bear :poop: in a few miles of walking. They will go down into the low desert when prickly pear fruit is ripe sept-nov. Always worth being cautions for your and the bears well being.
 
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Thanks everyone. Good stuff.

This confirms 1) that the vehicle, if sealed, is a good lockbox and 2) take otherwise smart precautions, which I already do (like keep trash etc. away from site and up high if possible.

Ironically, more of our stress this particular weekend is likely to come more from rain than animals. Oh well, we know that in advance and it will be part of the adventure.
 

zona

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Thanks everyone. Good stuff.

This confirms 1) that the vehicle, if sealed, is a good lockbox and 2) take otherwise smart precautions, which I already do (like keep trash etc. away from site and up high if possible.

Ironically, more of our stress this particular weekend is likely to come more from rain than animals. Oh well, we know that in advance and it will be part of the adventure.
These are good questions.

My experience with bears tells me when hiking to make noise so as to not surprise a black bear. My experience with bears camping tells me what everyone else told you, seal it, lock it up and roll up the windows. Don't keep any food in your tent and don't worry about bears, they don't want anything to do with us. Be more worried about idiots starting forest fires.

Zona
 
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they don't want anything to do with us. Be more worried about idiots starting forest fires.
Yep, keep reminding myself and wife of that... Bears, coyotes, etc. don't go out at dusk with an overarching desire to find and target humans...

Well, maybe this thread will serve through the years of various bear incidents and sightings in Tonto here. I do know one was spotted in the Devil's Chasm canyon about 4 months ago at a distance by some hikers.

We drive out tonight and I'll try to post pictures later this week.
 

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I have hunted with my friend in the same area for going on 30 years now. Game and fish told us once this was the area where they relocate all the
"Problem bears from Mt Lemon". We see them regularly, usually parked on the top of a juniper tree, eating the berries and big red butts from all
that fiber. Once they catch wind of us, they are off to the next canyon.
That being said, one year we woke up and found a fresh scat close to camp. packed up and left that day.
Odds are good you will never see one and skunks and rodents will be the rascals that will draw you out of a dead sleep.
 
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For what it's worth, I've have seen black bears pry into locked cars to access food. They claw into widow margins and pop the glass. Mind you, these were Sierra Nevada bears with tremendous breaking and entering experience, but it can happen.
 
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Personally I would be more concerned about Bears than Mtn Lions though👍


That is unless your a deer. Then I would be worried more about lions.

Seen a Game and Fish truck driving thru a subdivision yesterday. The Interesting part is the back had a bunch of kennels with Bloodhounds in them. This was in the subdivision which has the most relocated Big Horn Sheep spotting. Makes be wonder if some of the sheep with tracking collars are being killed by a Mtn Lion. A close by subdivision a game camera caught a lion catching a deer.
 

JunkCrzr89

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That is unless your a deer. Then I would be worried more about lions.

Seen a Game and Fish truck driving thru a subdivision yesterday. The Interesting part is the back had a bunch of kennels with Bloodhounds in them. This was in the subdivision which has the most relocated Big Horn Sheep spotting. Makes be wonder if some of the sheep with tracking collars are being killed by a Mtn Lion. A close by subdivision a game camera caught a lion catching a deer.
What unit? Probably Brian Jansen looking for a lion.
 

JunkCrzr89

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Would be in hunt unit 5A. Area of the Tinder Fire from 2018. This is close to where introduced the sheep.
Yeah, they capture and kill lions in the sheep reintroduction areas in an attempt to reduce mortality and promote population growth...despite disease/pneumonia being the leading cause of death for bighorns, not predation...
 
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Yeah, they capture and kill lions in the sheep reintroduction areas in an attempt to reduce mortality and promote population growth...despite disease/pneumonia being the leading cause of death for bighorns, not predation...


To be honest was surprised they introduced sheep into the burn area. Area is not a steep and rocky as thought big horn steep needed as habitat. The area is filled with burnt Ponderosa Pine and tall green grass.:meh:
 

JunkCrzr89

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To be honest was surprised they introduced sheep into the burn area. Area is not a steep and rocky as thought big horn steep needed as habitat. The area is filled with burnt Ponderosa Pine and tall green grass.:meh:
Never underestimate the power of legislators who, despite having no natural resources professional experience or training, force agencies to do stuff that doesn’t make biological or ecological sense.
 
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Never underestimate the power of legislators who, despite having no natural resources professional experience or training, force agencies to do stuff that doesn’t make biological or ecological sense.
Bingo! I have a BS in Biology and having worked with DEC in Western NY State in the past, this comment is right on the money! That being said environmental decisions made here are still at least 1000% better decisions than what were made back East. Too often those in the know are not asked about what the “best” decision is based upon environmental factors, predator/prey population density, etc….. Back in WNY DEC flatly dismissed documented cases of Mtn Lions on the Southern boundary of WNY moving north from Pennsylvania in the area around Whitesville. Finally they were forced to admit it was happening due to multiple game cam pics posted up. Pop is very small there and as you can imagine a tremendous overpopulation of Whitetail deer, so happy hunting for a Mtn Lion. Oh wait, same thing happened here when Game and Fish initially denied Jaguars on Southern AZ border when game cam footage was posted up.🙄🙄. So I guess the more things are different the more they are the same Beaurocracy. We no longer live in a time where those that know are asked for their expertise.
 

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