Health & Safety

March 29, 2012

Live safely with bears on Fort Huachuca

Tags:
Mark McCabe
LO5S2040

Fort Huachuca is located in what is considered good black bear habitat. Bears are used to the area and capable of living here successfully without human intervention. However, occasionally bears will wander into the housing or other cantonment areas in search of an easy meal. People must be proactive to prevent dangerous bear interactions.

Bears are omnivorous, meaning they will eat plants and flesh. Natural food sources for black bears include: fruit, berries, nuts, carrion, small animals, grasses and even tree bark during the harshest times. In human settings, bears will eat garbage, dog food, bird seed and food people intentionally set out for animals. Once a bear learns where it can get an easy meal, it will likely return. To prevent bears from getting too close to home, people must take these few simple steps:

  • Leave garbage cans inside until the day of pick-up
  • Keep pets and pet food inside
  • Hang bird feeders at least eight feet off the ground
  • Keep barbeque grills clean
  • Pick ripe fruits and vegetables immediately
  • Do not intentionally feed wildlife “” it is illegal!

Natural resources on Fort Huachuca are abundant, more so than on areas outside installation boundaries. This makes the fort a favorable location for bears to live and roam in. Last summer’s Monument Fire may have pushed even more bears onto Fort Huachuca, which makes it even more important to follow the guidelines described above.

People who see a bear and believe it is a public nuisance should not approach it. Instead, contact the military police at 533.2181 or the environmental department at 533.8763. Yell, whistle or bang pans together in order to drive it away. Those who see a bear while hiking should alter their route to avoid it. If approached by a bear, make loud noises and make yourself look as large as possible by waving your arms, jacket or anything else you are carrying. Do not run. Keep your eyes on the bear and back away slowly.

Bears are an important part of Arizona’s diverse habitat, and many people consider witnessing a bear in its natural environment a rare and exciting event. By taking a few simple precautions, everyone can help to ensure there are no dangerous people-and-bear interactions.

A nuisance bear is usually condemned to death. Remember “” a fed bear is a dead bear!




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