Bear in June 24 attack still on the loose

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PAYSON, Ariz. -- The bear responsible for attacking a Tempe man last month at the Ponderosa Campground remains on the loose.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said that DNA samples have cleared the three bears that were recently located and killed.

Peter Baca’s June 24 run-in with a bear was the latest in a string of bear attacks in the area.

A woman who was also staying at the Ponderosa Campground was clawed on May 31 while she slept in her tent. On June 21, a bear bit a man who was sleeping in a garage in a nearby subdivision.

Following the attacks, authorities killed three bears. While all three have been cleared in the Baca attack, officials said there wasn’t enough DNA evidence to determine if they were responsible for the other two attacks.

There has been a rise in the number of bear sightings in the area near the attacks, but Game and Fish said they are having a difficult time locating any of the bears.

“We have several snares set, several bait sites, we’ve got two game wardens up there patrolling that area almost around the clock seven days a week. We’re still looking for the offending bear,” said Jim Paxon, Chief of Information with Arizona Game and Fish.

Officials have said that they plan to re-evaluate the order that closed the Ponderosa, Sharp Creek and Christopher Creek campgrounds until July 15.

“Safety is our number one concern, and our bear population is not in any risk or any danger at all,” Paxon added.