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Black bear captured in Riverfront Park
Written by Lu Stitt   
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 12:58

An early morning walk along the Verde River for one Cottonwood woman got exciting when she spotted a black bear.

The bear was near the path she was traveling next to Riverfront Park in cottonwood around 8 a.m. May 25. She called 9-1-1 and Cottonwood police officers arrived a few minutes later.

“At first he was in a pasture to the east of the park eating grass, so we watched him for a while, thinking he’d just move on. About 20 minutes later he showed up in the grassy area at the park, so we pushed him back into the trees by the river and then we pushed him up into one and stayed there waiting for game and fish,” Sgt. Ryan Gildehaus said.

The officers taped off the area and kept people back. Several onlookers arrived to see what was going on after they heard the officers yelling and saw them trying to coral the young bear.

Arizona Game and Fish officials estimated the bear’s age at less than two years old. Although he is a black bear, his coat still had a lot of brown, tan and cinnamon in it.

A few times the bear tried to leave the tree but was frightened by the crowd below and climbed higher and rested on a large limb.

“He was up there about two hours. It took a couple of darts to tranquilize him because of the wind and that he was so high in the tree,” Gildehaus said.

The Cottonwood Fire Department brought a ladder so the game and fish officers could get close enough to get a good shot, but the bear climbed down a little and the ladder was not needed, according to Fire Chief Mike Casson.

The first attempt was only partially successful, so they called Cyndi Sessoms, executive director of the Verde Valley Humane Society, who arrived with another tranquilizer dart.

After the dart hit the target, the bear weaved and fell from the tree — about 40 feet to a small wash bed, Casson said.

The game and fish officers and Cottonwood police and fire officials rolled the bear onto a tarp and carried him to a waiting mobile cage.

“Once down, the paramedics treated the bear’s wounds from the darts and checked him over for other injuries from the fall, but didn’t find any others. The fall was sad, but he was fine,” Gildehaus said.

C.D. Adams and others from Game and Fish took the bear for further evaluation and then took him to Cordes Junction where he was released into the Pine Mountain area.

“We have black bear on Mingus Mountain, Black Mountain and in Sycamore Canyon. He could have come from any of those places,” Gildehaus said.

The bear is only the second one found within the city limits in the past several years, he said.

Some of the information in this article was provided by Chuck Tyler who was at the scene when officials captured the bear.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 634-8551 or e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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