Bear-proof campgrounds near PaysonPosted: Updated:
Bear proofing campgrounds? It's happening near Payson. This comes after a few bear attacks last year up in the high country.
As our weather warms up, officials want people to feel safe when they bring their families out for the weekend.
Ponderosa campground is open for the season, but last summer it was closed because of bear attacks. Like the campsite, the campers tell CBS 5 News they've come prepared should they see a bear in the area.
Andres Tapia is having a guys-only weekend with a few friends.
"Having a few beers, relaxing with the guys," he said.
He's playing ladder ball to pass the time. And despite warnings posted all over about bears, he's not worried.
"Doesn't freak me out, we've got enough guys out here that we can do something about it," he said.
The next campsite over, Amy Mirabal is chilling with her family.
"Just came to get away from the heat," she said.
Mirabal's been briefed by groundskeepers on bear safety.
"You know, to put our food away and stuff like that," she said.
Jim Paxton with the Arizona Game and Fish Department says that briefing is a new thing for campers. They're also giving out pamphlets on bear safety.
"We want to make them unwelcome, we want to make them know we're bigger and badder than they are and go somewhere else," said Paxton.
All this is in response to a 2011 bear attack that left one woman dead and another man who was mauled by a bear last summer.
"Until we get the summer monsoons, and get acorns and berries, bears are going to be looking for something to eat," said Paxton.
Metal boxes can be found at many campsites as part of the bear proofing measure. People can stick their food in it so bears aren't attracted to it. About 30 are found around campsites near Ponderosa.
While Tapia enjoys a cold one, he's also mindful to keep an eye out for the bears.
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