MOUNT GRAHAM — Local wildlife authorities have closed Riggs Lake Campgrounds on Mount Graham, as well as access to the lake itself, until further notice.
Eastern Arizona Courier spoke with Forest Service Public Relations Officer Heidi Schewel regarding bear activity in the area.
“There has been a nuisance bear in the area. We have had several campsites which have been closed, and the bear is still hanging around and appearing to be becoming aggressive, so we’re closing the campground for public safety for further notice,” Schewel said. “The bear, as with many bears, they get into food and trash, and they really come to prefer it over their natural foods. And if it is readily available, they’ll eventually lose their fear of humans and approach people so they can get to the human food or trash. That’s what we call getting habituated to people, and that appears to be what is happening with this bear.”
Schewel said the Forest Service is working with Arizona Game and Fish, and she doesn’t know when the lake or campground will be reopened. However, she did say that the bobcat attack that occurred July 28 is not connected to this recent wildlife incident.
“He (the bear) has been browsing the shoreline. Apparently, he’s been consuming dead fish or bait fish left on the shore by fishermen, which we would encourage them to pick up. And, apparently, within the past 24 hours, he bluff-charged a camper,” said Arizona Game and Fish Tucson Public Information Officer Mark Hart. “Bears will sometimes feint a charge that they don’t complete. And how long of a charge, I don’t know, but that’s a precursor of aggressive behavior.”