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DNA tests of bear confirm involvement in attack on woman

Posted in: News Media
Jul 1, 2011
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PHOENIX — Results of DNA testing on an adult male black bear have confirmed that the animal is the one that attacked a woman in Pinetop on Tuesday. 

The Arizona Game and Fish Department conducted a forensic necropsy of the bear on Wednesday, but the procedure did not yield any immediately identifiable human material. However, DNA samples taken from the bear during the necropsy matched bear DNA found on the victim’s clothing.
The analysis was done by the nationally-recognized Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory. 
“Confirmation from the DNA tests gives us complete confidence that we removed the right bear in the interest of public safety. Hopefully, correct identification will provide closure for the victim and her family,” said Larry Voyles, Arizona Game and Fish Department director. “We especially thank the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for dropping their other priorities to immediately process this case. Their responsiveness was key to getting the results so quickly.”
A rabies test carried out by the Arizona Department of Health Services came back negative.
Game and Fish’s forensic necropsy did reveal a significant amount of kitchen garbage in the bear’s digestive tract, suggesting that the animal had been scavenging for food waste in trash cans and dumpsters.
Drought conditions are likely to bring more wildlife, including bears, into local towns and communities in search of food. Residents and visitors are reminded to take these immediate steps to minimize bear encounters:

  • Store household trash or food waste in a secure location such as a garage, shed or bear-proof container.
  • Put trash out the morning of collection; never the night before.
  • Clean your trash container regularly.
  • If you hear of a bear in your area or see a yellow Game and Fish sign that says “Advisory – Bear Frequenting Area,” take all necessary precautions to prevent attracting it, including securing all trash, bird and squirrel feeders, and any other potential food attractant.

Other potential food attractants include pet food, uncleaned BBQs, and even orchard fruit on the ground. The food odors attract bears that have a very keen sense of smell.
For more information or questions on reducing wildlife conflicts at your home or property, pick up a copy of the “Living with Bears” brochure at the Pinetop office, or visit the department’s website at To schedule a nuisance wildlife presentation at your next Homeowner's Association meeting, contact the Pinetop regional office at (928) 367-4281.

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