GRAHAM COUNTY — A male bear on Mount Graham was considered too dangerous to relocate and was euthanized, officials said.
After the Courier first reported the closure of Riggs Lake and Riggs Lake Campground on Mount Graham, the actions of the bear intensified in aggressiveness. Before the bear was euthanized by Federal Wildlife Services on Sunday afternoon, the bear bluff-charged three times and tore into an unoccupied tent.
Riggs Lake and Riggs Lake Campground have been re-opened to the public.
Arizona Game and Fish is testing the deceased bear for rabies.
“We attempted to trap it unsuccessfully,” said Mark Hart, Arizona Game and Fish public information officer. “We are only testing for rabies in an abundance of caution given what happened with the bobcat and to dispel any word of mouth about its behavior. ”
Arizona Game and Fish has a zero tolerance policy for aggressive male bears. This policy was created after an attack on Mount Lemon in 1996 by a male bear that had been repeatedly relocated. Also, the threshold to euthanize for male bears is stricter as, by nature, male bears tend to be more aggressive.
“Its behavior was escalating. It went from browsing the shoreline to charging people. Probably people will question why not relocate it, but people need to understand that bears will walk 100 miles to either return to the territory they were removed from or resume the bad behavior that got them relocated in the first place,” Hart said.
The results of the rabies testing will be available in several weeks.