Arizona Game and Fish completes forensic necropsy of suspected ‘attack’ bear

The Arizona Game and Fish Department completed its portion of
the forensic necropsy of a bear that is believed to have attacked a
woman in Pinetop on Tuesday. The necropsy included both an
extensive external and internal exam and was conducted by the
department’s veterinarian and law enforcement investigators.

The procedure did not yield any immediately identifiable human
material. However, a significant amount of kitchen garbage was
found in the bear’s digestive tract, including a large quantity of
greasy kitchen paper towels.

The necropsy revealed that the mature male black bear was in good
physical condition with no obvious injuries or maladies that may
have contributed to his aggressive behavior.

The team collected numerous evidence samples from the bear’s teeth,
claws, fur and digestive tract that are being flown immediately by
the department to the nationally-recognized Wyoming Game and Fish
Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory in Laramie, Wyo.

The lab will carry out testing to determine if there is a link
between the adult male black bear and the attack. Barring
complications, initial test results could be available within a
week.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim. We are committed to
expediting this process of confirming that we have the right bear
for the public’s safety and closure for the victim and her family,”
said Director Larry Voyles of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
“The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Arizona Department of
Health Services are accommodating us and understand the urgency of
processing the samples.”

The bear is being tested by Health Services for rabies. Those
results are expected to be available this week, although officials
do not believe the animal had rabies.

Although highly unlikely, if the forensic necropsy determines that
the bear was not the one responsible, efforts will continue to find
the right bear.

Game and Fish is continuing to respond to bear and human
interaction reports in Pinetop and statewide following
longstanding, comprehensive protocols.

Bear attacks on humans are rare with only seven cases documented
(including the one this week in Pinetop) in Arizona since 1990,
which is as far back as the department’s database tracks.

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