Bear attacks camper in Tonto Forest cabin

Bear attacks camper in Tonto Forest cabin

POSTED: Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 11:00pm

UPDATED: Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 11:04pm

A Tonto Village camper asleep in a cabin under construction was bitten by a bear early Friday morning, the fourth incident involving a bear in the Tonto National Forest in the past month.

The man was asleep on a cot in a sleeping bag when he felt a sharp pain in his calf and opened his eyes to see the bear, according to Jim Paxon of Arizona Game and Fish.

He said the man yelled and the bear retreated, but it did not immediately run away. When the bear did leave, it lingered in the area for 45 minutes.

Paxon said the man was being treated for superficial wounds to his calf, which bore the impressions of the bear's teeth.

Paxon said the attack is consistent with a bear that has been named in four previous attacks in the past month. He said wildlife officials believe the bear is an adult male.

Wildlife Services was bringing in a dog to search for the bear, putting out bear traps and increasing officer presence in the area.

If the bear is captured, it will be lethally removed because of its aggressive and predatory behavior, Game and Fish officials said.

"With the state's drought and scarce food resources, more and more wildlife are moving into areas that are on the fringe of wild lands looking for food," sad Rod Lucas, regional supervisor for Game and Fish. "Bears are particularly attracted to areas where humans are because of the often easy access to garbage, food and gardens."

Tonto Village is northeast of Payson and mile away from another campground where a bear entered a woman's tent and clawed her May 31, officials said. The woman was OK after the attack.

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