Black bear found by residents on Arizona Strip, killed by Fish and Game; STGnews Videocast

DESERT SPRINGS, Ariz. — A black bear was shot and killed Saturday by Arizona Fish and Game after it was sighted on multiple different occasions, wandering around the town of Desert Springs near the Arizona Strip.

Mohave County Sheriff’s Office issued press releases and door-to-door notification about the black bear sightings. Nevertheless, Desert Springs residents Bruce Rogman and Judith Hansen, whose property the bear was subsequently found on, somehow had not received the warnings.

The two had family members planning to sleep down in a cabaña area on their property Friday night but changed their mind because, Rogman said, one of the boys said he was afraid of spiders, completely unaware of the other possible danger.

It was like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” Rogman said of discovering the bear had been sleeping in his bed in the cabaña.

“Well I knew something – I knew a wild animal was in there because these two dogs were wrestling with it,” Rogman said as he pointed at his two large dogs. “And I knew it was a big animal because I could hear how loud it was, but I couldn’t distinguish it was a bear.”

It wasn’t until Saturday morning that Rogman and his adult son confirmed exactly what was there.

“I was trying to clear out some water or some dirt or debris out of the spring, and then I saw its face. I was about this close to it,” Rogman said, indicating only about a few inches from his face.

Rogman’s son then went up to the house and told Hansen, “There’s a baby bear down in there on your property,” Hansen said. Thinking the bear was a baby needing help, Hansen immediately put her shoes on and went down the little hill to see what she could do.

“I went down and I started looking and looked in there, and I saw it from about 10 feet away, and I, umm, went closer and talked real quiet and it was watching me with its left eye,” Hansen said. “It had its head turned away from me so I couldn’t see its right eye very well. But it just kept watching me and it was just curled up, like in a fetal position.”

Even as a child, Hansen said, she has had somewhat of an uncanny intuitive sense and closeness with animals that allowed her to get close enough to assist them without being harmed. Hansen described gently speaking to the beautiful, rustic-colored bear as she slowly moved towards it to see if it was injured or in need of help.

“‘Oh, baby, are you OK? Let me get a little closer. I’m not going to hurt you,'” Hansen said she said to the bear, “and just talking to it very slowly, quietly and gradually working closer and closer to the bear. It was down in the grapevines, so I had to pull the grapevines out of the way to get in there by it. And I was talking to it and sitting by it.”

Hansen said the bear appeared to be in distress and in need of food, and she sent Rogman’s son up to get a bowl of dog food for the bear. She continued:

I was talking to the bear the whole time. Just real quietly sayin’ ‘I’m so sorry this is not fun for you. I know you don’t belong here. This just isn’t where your habitat is.’

He had long fur, and you don’t need long fur in this desert. And so they brought the bowl of dog food down and I told the bear ‘I’m just going to give you this.’ And I just moved in a little closer, and I just reached in and set it down right by its paws and its face. And he started eating the dog food and licked the whole bowl clean and I was talking to him, ‘isn’t that good? Isn’t it yummy?’

And then I just sat there and I talked to him and I told him, ‘I really think it would be best to just get some help, you know, get you taken back where you belong. Hopefully some Fish and Game people can come out and help you,’” Hansen said. “And talked to him just for a little bit longer sayin’ ‘I’m really sorry’ – stuff like.

After Hansen and Rogman talked, they decided it would be best for the bear if they called for help, so they called the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. A few hours later, they said three Sheriff’s Office trucks, an ambulance, Arizona Highway Patrol, Arizona Department of Transportation, a fire truck and a ranger law enforcement truck arrived at their home.

“Before I left for work – and they are all standing here with their high-powered rifles – and I’m like ‘don’t kill the bear! There is no reason to pull the trigger,’” Hansen said. “And they are like ‘well, we know what we are doing ma’am, you go back inside your house. We don’t need you here ma’am. You just need to go away.’ I’m like ‘OK, fine but this bear is not vicious, just don’t hurt it.’ ‘Cause I could tell it just wasn’t, you know, it just was needing help.”

After Hansen went to work, Rogman said he heard the shots and knew the bear was dead.

“I came out here right after I heard the shots. It was 4 shots. That was really weird. Why did it take 4 shots to do that, you know?” Rogman said.

A fed bear is a dead bear

“Are we going to capture the animal? Are we going to tranquilize it? A lot of cases with bears’ relocation gets very difficult and complicated in places to be able to release them,” Arizona Fish and Game Public Information Officer Shelly Shepherd said. “And then, unfortunately, in this situation, we had a bear that was being fed (and) not afraid of people.”

Situations like these can be difficult, Shepherd said. After interviewing several people in the area, Fish and Game officials determined the bear had had too much interaction with people in the neighborhood and had spent too much time in the area.

“The final result of having to shoot that animal is the last result we want to have to take if at all possible,” Shepherd said. “We want to try to just get that animal to move out on its own, and we use scare tactics and shotguns that actually shoot bean bag pellets and that kind of thing and see if we can scare animals out of the area. Sometimes they just keep coming back.”

Having an adult male bear showing no fear of humans is a public safety issue because it makes it a very dangerous animal, Shepherd said, and the Fish and Game policy dictates the animal be put down.

“We saw un-bearlike behavior in the fact that it was that timid. It was, I don’t want to call it tame, but when somebody can approach a black bear and it doesn’t do anything, there’s obviously something going on,” Shepherd said. “It was starting to get too used to humans and that could lead to a dangerous animal, certainly.”

“Some people are feeding, unfortunately, with the interest of the animal and its well-being,” she said, “but feeding wild animals is not a good idea. There is that slogan ‘A fed bear is a dead bear’ and we do see that, often, that they just start to develop these bad behaviors.”

Shepherd also said there are very limited areas in Arizona to safely relocate wild animals before reaching a carrying capacity or maximum population an environment or habitat can sustain indefinitely. Additionally, most of the Wildlife Park or zoo facilities are either at capacity or not accepting adult male bears, she said.

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11 Comments

  • ladybugavenger May 27, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    There goes the pet bear. A pet bear is a dead bear.

    • RealMcCoy May 28, 2015 at 11:06 am

      I’m waiting for Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton to jump on this.
      MSM news reports will be spun out like this:
      An unarmed BLACK bear was gunned down by racist law enforcement officers. A mockingjay was the sole witness to the execution, and claims the poor, innocent black bear was shot in the back, with his hands up, and saying ‘Dont shoot!’.
      Mama bear was asked for a statement, and claims that her poor baby black bear was a ‘good boy’ and ‘never done nuttin wrong’.
      Papa bear claims that his black bear son is a victim, and had been led astray ever since he started dipping into Goldielock’s honeypot. Goldielock’s is a ‘typical white person’, claims Papa bear.
      Riots- I mean peaceful protests- will be held in full view of the public in order for the general public to recognize that “Black Bear Lives Matter”. They will -paws- for a moment of silence before the looting commences.

  • Real Life May 27, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    You know dam well those knuckleheads got an arousal when they got that call, with one thing on their mind. Shooting that bear dead.

    • mesaman June 24, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      I don’t know how you could make a diagnosis from your biased vantage point, besides it does no good for the situation. My conclusion; it was not handled the way I wish it had been, it had a very sad ending, many people will offer the same conclusion.

  • holger May 27, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    “three Sheriff’s Office trucks, an ambulance, AHP, ADOT, a fire truck and a ranger law enforcement truck …. they are all standing here with their high-powered rifles”. They were obviously itchin’ to kill, they had their minds made up before they got there.

    “The final result of having to shoot that animal is the last result we want to have to take if at all possible … We want to try to just get that animal to move out on its own”. Baloney.

    • mesaman June 24, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      See comment above to “real life”. Your visual conclusions do not warrant a psychological evaluation unless you can exhibit proper credentials.

  • sagemoon May 28, 2015 at 8:58 am

    I wish they would have tried harder to find a better solution than killing the bear. I think they were in a hurry to solve a problem and didn’t do their due and diligent effort in finding alternate solutions.

  • 42214 May 28, 2015 at 10:31 am

    I wonder if they would have killed it if it was a white bear. Black bears matter.

  • Sunny1 May 28, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    This story makes me so sad. Why the heck do they have to shoot and kill everything? That bear looks nothing like the big black bear stock photos. The bear in this story is thin, sickly looking, passive and not scary looking at all! I feel bad for the lady who talked sweetly to the bear, fed him and asked for him to be kept alive! You are a kind woman and were his last bit of kindness before he was destroyed.
    I think this was someones pet that got dumped off in the desert. He was sleeping in a bed for goodness sakes. Really, not one zoo, animal sanctuary or service to take in the sad bear? Boo SG Fish & Wildlife, boo, shame, you failed this beautiful animal!!!!

    • scar June 3, 2015 at 1:05 am

      It was Arizona Fish and Game. And I agree another solution would have been better. This story makes me sick.

  • Sunny1 May 28, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    And why is everyone so afraid of bears? The homeowners should have just left out some food for him and let him be. 🙁

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