Wildlife officials fear more bear-human encounters

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PAYSON, Ariz. -- Friday's bear attack was only the ninth in Arizona since 1990, but the second in just two weeks.

Kevin Bergersen, with Arizona Game & Fish, says the widespread drought is a large factor in the recent attacks.

"We know there will be an increase in bear encounters in urban interface, and when we see these attacks, it's symptomatic of an overall crop failure for the bears," said Bergersen.

During the summer months, bears focus on fattening up on foods like nuts, berries, and succulents for winter, but the drought has made many of their natural food sources scarce.

"The largest bears are concentrating on the best food crops, so the smaller bears are being displaced," he explained.

Traps have been set for the problem bear, or bears, near Payson, but in the meantime, wildlife experts offer these tips for campers:

-Bathe in lye soap to kill food odors

-Sleep 100 feet from food or garbage

-If a bear gets aggressive, get loud and fight back; do not run away