Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Six bears removed from Mt. Lemmon; curious take a look


Wildlife officials trucked several bears off Mount Lemmon over the weekend after two bear attacks in as many weeks.

But the scare hasn’t kept Tucsonans from heading up the mountain, some of them hoping to see bears in the wild.

And despite their concerns for a teen critically injured in a mauling last week, mountain visitors and residents alike said they were sorry to see the bears go.

“The mountain has lost everything now that it lost the bears,’ said cafe worker Aaron D. Howell. “People come to see nature, and now it’s gone.’

Since Thursday, officials on Mount Lemmon have trapped and relocated six of the 15 to 20 black bears that lived in the Santa Catalina Mountains, said Cadie Pruss, wildlife biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Another bear was found dead Saturday in the Mount Lemmon village of Summerhaven, and its “suspicious’ death was being investigated, Pruss said.

A resident reported the dead bear to Game and Fish, said Pruss, who would not comment further.

Tucsonans picnicking at Marshall Gulch yesterday said they weren’t worried.

“We didn’t think twice about coming up here,’ said Lisa Bravo, who was sitting next to a bear trap. “There’s other people up here.’

Bravo and her family peeked into the bear trap, which was locked and empty.

She said she felt safe because they were close to their truck, where they could run should a bear approach, and they had put all their trash inside the truck after they finished eating.

“Obviously we’re not scared,’ Bravo said. “But I wouldn’t let my kid go hiking alone.’

“I’m not afraid,’ said Tucsonan Chuck Loschiavo, picnicking in Marshall Gulch with his family. “(The bear attack) was a rare incident.’

While grilling food yesterday, Loschiavo said he was not concerned about encountering a bear because he was taking the proper precautions. He wasn’t leaving food thrown around or letting his children wander around on the mountain, he explained.

But while he felt safe picnicking, Loschiavo said he won’t camp overnight on the mountain anytime soon.

Many visitors on the mountain love and respect the bears, and they continue to come to see them, said Debbie Hardesty, owner of The Living Rainbow gift shop in Summerhaven.

“I feel deep down people love the bears,’ Hardesty said, while she waited on a store full of customers yesterday. “Most of the people have no fear.

“What I hear most from people is, `Where can I see the bears?’ ‘ she said.

Hardesty, who has owned the shop for 17 years, said she was saddened to see the bears relocated from the mountain, but understands why it has to be done.

“I don’t know why that bear did what it did, and that girl did not deserve to be attacked,’ Hardesty said, speaking of the bear that mauled 16-year-old Anna Louise Knochel on Thursday.

“But this is their home more than it is ours,’ she added.

Knochel, a volunteer 4-H counselor, was attacked as she slept in a tent on Organization Ridge, halfway up the mountain. She remained in critical condition today at Tucson Medical Center, where she underwent about 15 hours of surgery late last week.

Adults at the camp shot and wounded the bear, and sheriff’s deputies later shot and killed it after it bit and clawed Knochel.

Hardesty said people who continued to feed bears, despite warnings, are to blame for the attacks.

She has seen people feeding the bears right from their hands, although it’s illegal and causes bears to return for more.

Most of the bears who come through Summerhaven are tame and shy, she said. About three weeks ago a bear came behind the counter of her shop, but was startled when it saw her.

“It left when I told it to shoosh,’ she said. “It was just as surprised as I was.’

Until a few months ago, Hardesty said, she could count on one hand the number of bear sightings she’d had in nearly 20 years of living on the mountain.

But that changed this summer, largely because of drought that has drawn bears to campsites to look for food and water, officials have said.

Hardesty, who sells T-shirts and signs that read “Bear Crossing,’ said she has had many people come into the store in the last few months who have spotted bears on the mountain.

“People ask all the time about the bears,’ she said.

Because wildlife officials have been rounding up the bears quickly, the mountain is probably safer than it has been in a while, said Vic Zimmerman, owner of Cabins and Cookies.

He, too, continues to be asked about the bears by the curious and brave.

“I think people are sensible and understand (the attack) was unusual and bears aren’t running around,’ Zimmerman said.

The increased bear sightings have even helped business, said Janet L. Creedon, manager of the Mount Lemmon Cafe.

“You’ll always get the curious and bizarre who come up to see and others who didn’t care (to begin with),’ Creedon said.

Photos by MARY CHIND/Tucson Citizen/Tucsonan Alan Schmidt peers into a bear trap – empty except for its food bait – on Mount Lemmon yesterday.

Not worried about bears, Evlyn Loschiavo-Akury (right) supervises as her children (from left) Alexis, Chas and Ashley grill at a Marshall Gulch picnic spot yesterday.

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

Search site | Terms of service