WILLIAMS, Ariz. - A wild bear paid Bearizona a visit May 21 around 2 p.m. Visitors reported that a bear was loose a few feet off the sidewalk in Fort Bearizona.
Bearizona staff initiated their escape and recapture plan, which included evacuating the walk through area and moving all bears into lock down. The recapture team maintained a visual presence with the bear and prepared for sedation.
As visitors left the area, Bearizona staff realized that all of the park's bears were accounted for.
"Even before we began to lock down and count our bears, I took one look at that bear and knew it was not one of ours," animal keeper Laura Leinaar said. "We see our bears every day and can recognize who they are at a glance by their faces and how they walk. This bear didn't look or walk like any of our bears."
Bearizona staff sedated the bear but the bear immediately climbed a tree and became immobilized about 55 feet in the air nestled among several branches. A team from the Arizona Game and Fish Regional II office in Flagstaff arrived and safely removed the bear from the tree.
Wildlife managers tagged the male bear and relocated it.
"We have a great relationship with the Arizona Game and Fish and are grateful for their help and efficiency while handling this situation," Bearizona Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Stoffel said.
After inspecting perimeter fences Stoffel concluded that the bear likely entered a service entrance gate from the parking lot that borders the Kaibab National Forest.
"There are several factors that could have resulted in his visit including the drought and the Slide Fire," Stoffel said.
Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014
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I wonder about bear numbers around Williams? Years back, i remember they were trapping some that were coming into peoples yards. An article about how the wildlife is doing in the area would be good to read. The mountain lion population?