Home Outdoors Bear attack in Haigler Creek

Bear attack in Haigler Creek

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Photo of bear raiding a bird feeder by George Andrejko AZGFD

We always hear about being “Bear Aware”; after you read this story, you may just be on higher alert to the forest and wildlife we live among.


On Monday May 21, Heber resident Mike Baine’s daughter, Matti Baine, her boyfriend Lance Ayers and their dog were at Haigler Creek on a picnic enjoying the day. (Haigler Creek is located in Tonto National Forest below Christopher Creek.) They were on a blanket and were just finishing up when the dog let out a low growl. 


In that instant a cinnamon colored bear charged at Matti who ran behind a nearby tree. Lance hollered at the bear which turned toward him. He continued to yell to Matti to head for the car. When the bear, who had no fear of them at all, was about four feet away from him, Lance used a small pistol he had with him to shoot the bear. The shot struck its snout which caused it to turn and run away.


The couple who miraculously were not hurt in the attack, promptly contacted authorities who responded in numbers to investigate the incident. They tracked the bear down across the creek to where it looked like it climbed a mountain. They weren’t able to locate it as it was getting dark by that time.


A nearby homeowner reportedly had a recent experience with a bear of similar description that had got into his shed, opened a can of red paint and drank it.


Whether or not it was the same bear involved in the attack, obviously, this poor creature was under great stress causing it to exhibit extreme aggression. The current dry conditions is hard on the flora and the fauna so be sure to be aware wherever you are. Bears have turned up in Mesa and Anthem running through neighborhoods because of the desperate times.


Be sure to keep trash picked up and unavailable to bear and other animals. When tent camping don’t have food in the tent. Watch that your children don’t sneak in snacks. At home, bears are attracted to bird feeders so you may want to take those down at least for now. Love the wildlife – take care to do your part to keep you and them safe. Be careful out there!

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Barbara Samples was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ and has called Heber-Overgaard home since 2008. She is married to Larry Samples, who is co-owner with her in L & B, Inc., owner of the Mogollon Rim News. They have four (grown) children and two grandchildren. Barbara serves as the Editor.