Discover the Largest Bear Ever Caught in Arizona

Black Bear - Dangerous Animals in West Virginia
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Written by Volia Schubiger

Published: January 18, 2023

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Wildlife can be found in abundance in Arizona. It is home to many fascinating animals, including the black bear. It is not uncommon for black bears to be misconstrued by their name. As well as black, black bears also come in a number of other colors, including brown, blonde, and cinnamon. The size of these fascinating animals is also one of their most prominent characteristics. Have you ever wondered what the largest bear ever caught in Arizona was? You can learn more about that here if you’re interested.

Here are some interesting facts about bears, including the weight of the largest one ever caught in Arizona. There are some bears so big that you’ll be shocked!

The Largest Bear Ever Caught in Arizona

Black bear standing straight up on two back legs

Black bears are the most commonly found bear species in North America.

©Constance Mahoney/Shutterstock.com

As of today, no record exists in Arizona for the largest bear ever captured. We will examine a few contenders for the record for the largest bear, however, since the record is under dispute. 

An article from Williams News reported in 2008 that Williams resident Chris Binns had hunted down a massive bear. The black bear measured six feet tall and weighed 293 pounds, according to the report. The bear’s skull measured 19 and seven-eighths of an inch, which almost placed him in the Boone and Crocket book. However, Boone and Crocket require a bear with at least 21 inches of skull size to get into the book. Despite that, Chris Binns was blown away by the size of the bear he was able to take down.  

Then in 2013, Fred Eichler went to Arizona looking for a gigantic black bear. With guide Schylar Cloudt’s help, Eichler and Cloudt took down a massive black bear in Arizona. After the bear started killing livestock on the Oro Ranch, about 45 miles from Prescott, Arizona, Eichler, and Cloudt tracked it on horseback with hounds. Local game wardens say it is one of the biggest bears they have ever seen, although it has not yet been officially scored.

Black Bear Types and Appearance

Black Bear on road Mt Rainier, Washington

Black bears are the only species of bear left in the state of Arizona.

©iStock.com/Mark Lee

In Arizona, the American black bear (Ursus americanus) is the only bear species left. Canadian, United States, and Mexican forests are populated by these bears, which are the most common species in North America.

It is important to note that, as we mentioned above, black bear can be a misleading name. In fact, black bears come in a variety of color phases other than black, including brown, blonde, and cinnamon versions. It is also possible for their muzzle and chest to be colored tan or light depending on their coat color. 

As a rule, black bears are large and stocky animals with short tails. In Arizona, female black bears, also called sows, typically weigh 250 pounds, while adult male black bears weigh 350 pounds. Black bears range from 5 to 6 feet long and weigh 200 to 600 pounds as adults. The average male weighs 70 percent more than the average female. A strong neck supports the small head, and they have small, rounded ears.

Black Bear Habitat in Arizona

As well as being the most common and widely distributed bear in North America, the black bear also lives in many areas. In the past, black bears were found throughout North America’s forests, including in Mexico. The black bear has its own habitat areas in Arizona where it prefers to live. 

A total of 10,000 square miles of nontribal lands are occupied by black bears in Arizona, with most of them located in the north and eastern half of the state. Forests like pinyon-juniper, oak, conifer, and chaparral are among the habitats the black bear inhabits in Arizona. Interestingly, black bears don’t have a lot of population north of the Colorado River in Arizona. A black bear will migrate long distances to find pockets of food during times of drought. In recent years, black bears have made their way into metro areas of Phoenix and Tucson searching for food and water.

How Many Black Bears Are There in Arizona?

Black Bear Population by State

Black bear populations in Arizona are anywhere between 2,000 – 2,500 bears.

©jo Crebbin/Shutterstock.com

It has been estimated that there are between 2,000 and 2,500 black bears in the state of Arizona, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. That estimate is based on trends in harvest, habitat availability, and black bear densities reported across the state. The Black and Pinaleno Mountains and specific areas in the Mazatzal Mountains in central Arizona are where the black bear population is highest.

The hunting of bears in Arizona is legal. As a matter of fact, bear hunting in Arizona dates back many years. Even in 1928, bears were classified as predatory animals, making them vulnerable to hunting and trapping. However, the new game code in 1929 specified a one-bag limit, a month-long open season, and classified bears of all types as big game. Dogs were allowed to take bears, but they could not be trapped. In 1934, cubs were protected, and in 1936, the bear season south of the Gila River was closed.

Over the years, however, the game rules continued to change. As a result of concerns over the bear’s low reproductive rate, the Department closely monitored the bear harvest. Since 1980, harvest reporting has been mandatory. A valid hunting license and a black bear tag are required to hunt black bears in Arizona today. It is possible to obtain a non-permit tag from a licensed dealer for most types of black bear hunts. It is legal to hunt all bears except cubs or sows with cubs, and there is a limit of one black bear per calendar year.

In 2006, Arizona Game and Fish Department began requiring successful hunters to have black bears physically inspected to determine the age and sex of the animals and to collect important biological data. These data assist wildlife managers in closely monitoring harvest and ensuring sustainable populations.

Are Black Bears Dangerous?

You will probably feel fearful if you come face-to-face with a black bear if you are in its territory. However, the reality is that black bears are rarely aggressive in the wild. The black bear is considered to be a reserved animal. As a species, they exhibit high levels of intelligence and curiosity. The dangers of black bear attacks, however, cannot be understated, despite the fact that they are generally rare. An expansion of outdoor recreation, human populations, and development is believed to be directly linked to the rise in bear attacks.

Nevertheless, if you do happen to find yourself in the wild and you come across a black bear, you should remain very vigilant at all times. In case you come across a bear, you should identify yourself by talking calmly in order for the bear to distinguish you from a prey animal. During the encounter make sure to stay calm and move away slowly and sideways, but only if the bear is still sitting still, after which you can move away. Black bears have an excellent ability to climb trees, so it is not a good idea to run from them or attempt to scale a tree. As soon as it leaves and you feel safe, you should exit the area or take a detour around it.

Generally speaking, if you pay attention to your surroundings and keep a distance of at least 300 feet, you should not encounter any scary black bears.

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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