Elusive black bear spotted again in Phoenix suburb

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- A black bear that caused a stir when it ran through a field in a Phoenix suburb has been spotted again, a state wildlife official said Tuesday.

Residents reported seeing the bear twice between 3:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. in east Mesa, Arizona Game and Fish spokeswoman Amy Burnett said.

Wildlife personnel had been searching near the Mesa airport, but the animal hasn't been located. The agency is halting the search for now, she said.

"It's called off until we have another confirmed sighting," Burnett said.

Bears typically move around in the evening and morning, so a sighting in the middle of the day would be unlikely, she added. Anyone who does see the bear is advised to call Game and Fish or local police.

"Do not approach it," Burnett said. "Don't try to feed it."

Officials say they hope to relocate the animal to a more suitable habitat.

TV news helicopters captured video Monday of the bear bounding across an alfalfa field on the outskirts of Mesa, and then standing within feet of a game warden wielding a tranquilizer gun.

The bear proved elusive after it entered a former General Motors test site filled with fields, shrubbery and trees. Officials decided the site was too large to search.

Wildlife officials cautioned that the bear is a wild animal but also noted it was running from people and not acting aggressively.

It's unknown where the bear came from or how long it has been in the area. Black bears are the only species of bears living in Arizona, with an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 of them in the state, wildlife officials say.

Officials say the sighting is rare for the Phoenix metro area, where a bear is spotted once every couple of years.

The sightings sparked chatter on social media, including someone setting up a Twitter account for "Mesa Bear." By midday Tuesday, the account had more than 260 followers.
 

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