Print Hunger led black bear to trailer park
Written by Greg Ruland   
Saturday, 20 August 2011 03:00

A black bear came over Mingus Mountain, probably seeking food, and ended up dead at a Cottonwood trailer park early morning July 31.

The bear, estimated to be 5 years old and 250 pounds, died just before dawn after a retired animal trainer chased him up a tree.

Cottonwood homeowner Jack McLear shows the claw marks on a tree in front of his house left by an adult black bear. McLear said the sound of something large on his roof woke him on the night of July 30, and he discovered the bear sitting in the tree when he went outside to investigate.Jack McLear awoke shortly before 3 a.m. after hearing a loud thumping sound on the roof of his trailer home, which is located at a mobile home park in the 300 block of West State Route 89A.

Because McLear is installing a front porch that currently lacks a floor, he exited a side door and rounded a corner just in time to see the bear shimmying down a large pine tree at the front of his house.

“I don’t know how he got on top of my roof,” McLear said.

The bear immediately spotted McLear and crawled back up, eventually finding a perch in the crotch of the tree.

McLear quickly ducked into his sedan, which was parked in a driveway next to the tree, and called police.

“He just sat there. As long as I was here, he wasn’t going to come down,” said McLear, who trained animals to appear in several famous television commercials, including the Schlitz Malt Liquor bull and Exxon “Tiger in your tank.”

As many as 12 Cottonwood Police Department officers responded to the scene, many armed with rifles, and surrounded the tree, McLear said.

Police called Arizona Game and Fish to assist, according to police records.

An hour passed before an AZGF wildlife manager arrived from Prescott with a large animal transport tube, McLear said.

The tube was never used. Instead, the AZGF officer shot the bear with a powerful tranquilizer, causing it to fall onto the street with a thud, he said.

Although police reports state the bear was captured, AZGF confirmed it was actually euthanized. McLear speculated the bear was killed at the scene with a tranquilizer commonly used for that purpose, M99.

“The animal was euthanized per protocol,” AZGF officer Virginia Gouldsbury said.

“It seems like every year in the Verde Valley we get a mountain lion or bear,” AZGF Wildlife Manager Tom Bagley said.

“When the vegetation and stock tanks dry up in the hills, a lot of the big game species, the herbivores, will come down into the valley, closer to where the river is, and the predators follow,” Bagley said.

“I’m not a fanatic about animals,” McLear said. “If an animal needs to be killed, it needs to be killed. But I don’t think it was necessary in this case. They had a transport tube. It would have been fairly easy to load him up and take him up Mingus Mountain.”

“We will tranquilize and relocate, which we try to do, but if a bear has become habituated — lost its fear of people — and we believe there is danger to public, we will decide to put it down,” Bagley, who was not involved in the July 31 incident, said.

McLear’s wife, Linda, who was on a trip to Montana when the incident took place, called the incident ironic.

“I went to Montana looking to see bears. I didn’t see a single one. Turns out, all I had to do was stay at home,” Linda McLear said.