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bear attacks teen Arizona

In a startling incident that shocked an Arizona family, a 15-year-old boy was attacked by a black bear while vacationing in a cabin near Alpine, close to the New Mexico border. The attack occurred on May 23, 2024, as reported by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The bear managed to enter the cabin through an open door and struck the unsuspecting teen from behind, hitting him in the head with its paw as he sat in the cabin.

Carol Hawkins, the boy’s mother, recounted the harrowing experience to local news, expressing her disbelief: “Never in our wildest dreams did we think a bear would come into the home. He hadn’t realized it because it came in from behind, and it reached over and swiped at his face twice.”

The family quickly intervened, causing the bear to flee the cabin momentarily, only for it to return and attack the teen a second time. The family’s bravery during these critical moments likely prevented a more severe outcome. “It was thanks to the quick reaction by his brother and his family that they were able to distract the bear from what very easily in a matter of seconds could have turned into a real tragedy there,” Shawn Wagner, Law Enforcement Supervisor for the state Game and Fish Department, told the station.

Authorities later located and euthanized the bear approximately 120 feet from the cabin, and the boy was transported to a hospital with injuries to his face and an arm. His family reported feeling blessed that he survived and is on the path to recovery.

This incident marks the 16th bear attack on a person in Arizona since 1990, with two previous encounters resulting in fatalities. Officials emphasized black bears’ unpredictable and dangerous nature and announced plans to test the bear’s remains for diseases.

Bear Safety Tips for Cabin Stays and Outdoor Activities

This alarming event serves as a critical reminder of the importance of bear safety, especially in areas where bears are known to be active. Here are several safety tips to consider:

  1. Secure Entry Points: Always ensure that doors and windows are securely closed, especially at night or when the cabin is unoccupied, to prevent wildlife from entering.
  2. Keep Food Secure: Store food in bear-proof containers or locked inside the cabin. Bears have a keen sense of smell and are often attracted to food odors.
  3. Be Bear Aware: Educate yourself and your family about bear behavior. Understanding how to react to a bear encounter is crucial.
  4. Carry Bear Spray: When in bear country, always carry bear spray and know how to use it effectively. Bear spray can provide a vital line of defense in an emergency.
  5. Avoid Attracting Bears: Do not leave pet food outside; secure garbage in bear-proof bins. Minimize odors that might attract bears to your area.
  6. Create Noise: Bears generally avoid humans, so making noise while hiking or moving around outside can prevent surprise encounters.
  7. Know How to Respond: If you encounter a bear, do not run. Remain calm, speak in a firm voice, and slowly back away. If attacked, fight back using any available object to target the bear’s face.

Final Thoughts

While rare, bear encounters can happen, especially in areas known for their wildlife presence like Alpine, Arizona. As humans encroach more into natural habitats, interactions between wildlife and people can increase. Taking proactive steps to minimize risks is not just advisable; it’s essential for the safety of all. This includes securing food and trash, closing entry points to lodgings, and always being alert to the surroundings.

Understanding how to respond if you do encounter a bear is equally critical. Education on bear behavior, the proper use of bear spray, and the effectiveness of creating noise to deter bears are vital skills for anyone venturing into bear country. Additionally, always respect wildlife regulations and guidance provided by local authorities to ensure your safety and the well-being of the wildlife.

This recent attack serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of vigilance and preparedness when enjoying the natural beauty of bear habitats. Bears are powerful creatures, but we can safely coexist with the right knowledge and precautions. Let this incident reinforce our commitment to respecting nature and taking responsibility for our safety practices. By doing so, we ensure that our encounters with the wild remain awe-inspiring, not tragic.

As always, be safe and be prepared.


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