KPD forced to kill young black bear
Animal was first spotted near golf course then tracked across Stockton Hill Road
KINGMAN - Officers with the Kingman Police Department shot and killed a black bear in the 1700 block of Jefferson Avenue in Kingman Thursday morning, after the bear wandered into the city limits and reportedly attempted to break into residences, as well as one local post office.
KPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Bob Fisk said the department received its first report of the bear at 9:53 a.m., from a resident who had seen the bear in the vicinity of the Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course. Within a few minutes, Fisk said, the department was flooded with similar calls tracking the bear's progress across Stockton Hill Road to the Kingman post office at 1901 Johnson Ave.
"It's my understanding that it came from Stockton Hill and crossed over into the post office area," Fisk said. "There was a sighting reported behind the Silver Spoon restaurant (at 2011 Andy Devine Ave.)."
Fisk said KPD officers arrived on the scene within minutes and observed the bear attempting to get into a window of the post office. "We had officers on scene and they observed it at the post office, and then it was going through the alleyways and climbing fences, trying to gain entrance to residents' homes." he said. "It was acting in a very aggressive manner ... the bear was pushing on a door trying to get into a house, and there were a lot of people out and about being inquisitive of what was going on."
Police observed the bear crossing Stockton Hill Road to Jefferson Avenue, where it came precariously close to several bystanders. It was then that KPD Capt. Ray Sipe made the decision to have the bear shot rather than risk the public's safety.
"Due to its aggressive nature, the bear had to be taken out," Fisk said.
The bear was shot three times with a .223-caliber M4 rifle. Still alive, the bear attempted to flee the area. Fisk said KPD Lieutenant Rusty Cooper attempted to block the bear's escape with his vehicle, which the bear apparently ran into before finally succumbing to its injuries.
"One of the detectives said there was some hair stuck under the front fender," Fisk said.
Addressing the department's decision to shoot the bear rather than tranquilize it, Fisk emphasized the bear's aggressive attitude and the fact that officials from the Arizona Game and Fish Department had not yet arrived at the scene by the time the bear began coming close to bystanders.
"We didn't have much of a choice," he said. "If (Game and Fish) had gotten there earlier, or if we could have contained it in an area, that might have been an option."
A spokesman for the local Game and Fish office, Zen Mocarski, agreed that public safety was the top priority in Thursday's situation.
"A bear going up on door steps and trying to get into houses is a public safety issue," Mocarski said. "From my standpoint, the bear was running around and kind of doing what a bear would do. It was confused, and a confused bear is a dangerous one."
Mocarski said the bear's remains are now in the custody of Game and Fish. The bear, he said, was a male black bear, about one year in age and weighing approximately 175 pounds.
"That makes it a yearling, and a yearling bear is at that age when the mother is about ready to boot it out of its territory," Mocarski said.
"That's likely what happened with this bear, he kind of wandered into town. Judging from the claws in the bear, he couldn't have been in town for very long - his claws were very pristine, and walking on concrete and asphalt, his claws would've been worn."
Mocarski said the bear likely originated in the Hualapai Mountains, which maintain a small population of black bears, though Game and Fish has not conducted an official population survey. Initial examinations indicated that the bear had been in good health, with no apparent evidence of rabies or other illness.
"The bear appears healthy, but Game and Fish will not be performing a necropsy," Mocarski said. "The bear was at a good weight for its age, it had a good coat for its age."
As to the bear's remains, Mocarski said the department would consider several options.
The bear could be destroyed, he said, but its fur and skull could also be utilized for educational purposes at local schools or to teach law enforcement techniques such as proper tagging and how to age a bear through the size of its teeth.
"What will happen to it remains in question at this point in time," he said.
"In all likelihood, parts of this bear will continue to be used for training purposes."