State wildlife officials hope the rain we've had the last few days will help keep bears from wandering into populated areas.
Last month, a couple of bears needed to be euthanized after coming too close to people. Things haven't slowed down for the Arizona Game and Fish Department since then.
"Our dry weather has driven them out of where they'd normally be in the woods, looking for food and water in new places because it's so dry," said Bill Andres with AZGAF.
So far this year, there have been 460 calls to AZGAF about bears spotted in populated areas, more than in all of 2017.
"And that is a tremendous increase over years past," said Andres.
Since June 1, AZGAF has relocated 14 bears, and nine needed to be euthanized.
"We will tag the ears so that we know the bear has been in trouble already and we will set it out in a specially designed release site that is as far away from people as we can put them. Sometimes bears stay in those areas and sometimes they wander back into town," said Andres.
Andres says when that happens, bears don't get another chance and are put down.
"Bears are an apex predator, meaning that they are dangerous, they can be dangerous," he said.
It's the last resort for AZGAF.
"Nobody goes to college to get a degree in wildlife management so they can shoot a problem bear. Our folks love bears just as much as everybody else. But public safety is our No.1 priority when it comes to bears," said Andres.
They hope the monsoon will bring enough rain to help keep these bears in the forests and away from people.
"We certainly hope it's going to start tapering off as we get more rain in the high country. Hopefully, that'll be able to grow some of the things that bears need to eat, berries, and nuts, and grasses," said Andres. "Fingers crossed things will get better. "
There are things you can do to help keep bears out of populated areas. Don't keep pet food outside and put your trash out in the morning of pickup.
AZGAF also uses water catchments around the state for wildlife during drought. You can donate money to help keep them full by texting 'SENDWATER' to 41444.
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