DNA results on two of three black bears killed by Arizona Game and Fish officers confirmed that neither of the bears was involved in Sunday’s (June 24) attack at the Ponderosa Campground, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported
Lab technicians could not say if the bears were involved in other attacks on May 31 and June 21 because there wasn’t enough DNA material on those victims’ belongings to draw at a conclusion.
Testing of bear hair samples from Sunday’s attack confirmed that the bear in that case is a male. Specialists said additional DNA analysis is under way using different samples from that incident in attempt to arrive at a more conclusive decision.
“We meticulously attempted to remove any available DNA samples from the first two victims’ personal belongings and submitted quite a few hairs, said Dr. Anne Justice-Allen, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s wildlife veterinarian.
“Unfortunately, the samples were hair that was shed, not plucked or pulled, which means there was no root and no DNA material,” Justice-Allen said. “So, it could be that one of the bears removed was involved in one or both of the first two attacks.”
The analysis was done by the nationally recognized Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensics and Fish Health Laboratory in Laramie, Wyo.
Wildlife officers from Game and Fish and personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services killed the three black bears in the past week in the vicinity around where the attacks occurred. Dogs tracked them from scent trails found near the site of the attacks.
Rabies tests carried out by the Arizona Department of Health Services on all three animals came back negative.
The first and third attack occurred on May 31 and June 24, respectively, at the Ponderosa Campground 10 miles east of Payson. The second attack took place on June 21 in Tonto Village, the Thompson Draw II subdivision, which is approximately one mile north of the Ponderosa Campground.
A 74-year-old female camper was attacked May 31 and a 30-year-old Tempe man was attacked June 24 in the same area. The June 21 attack injured Jason Amperse, 29, of Glendale, who asleep in a cabin under construction near Payson. He suffered a bite mark on his right leg and claw marks on his left leg.
Tonto National Forest officials have temporarily closed all six campgrounds in the Payson ranger district until at least July 15 because of the bear attacks.