Officials are puzzled that a black bear mauled a man drinking early morning coffee to death in Tucson, Arizona. Steve Jackson, 66, drank coffee at a wooden table on his wooded Groom Creek property where he was constructing a house in Yavapai County when the adult male bear struck. The incident happened before 8 am on Friday.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said Jackson may not have been aware of the advancing bear before it pounced on him. The elderly victim screamed for help as the animal dragged him 75 feet down an embankment where it began to maul him. The man’s cry for help attracted neighbors who shouted and honked their car horns to deter the bear without success.
Then a neighbor went for his rifle and shot the bear to death. But by this time, Jackson was badly mauled and succumbed to his injuries. Officials from the Arizona Game and Fish Department said they were unsure of what caused the unprovoked attack. They reported that there was no food, cooking site, access to water, or anything else that could have attracted the animal in the first place.
They attributed the attack to a “predatory response” or disease in the animal; they said they will conduct a necropsy on the bear to determine if it was sick in any way. They stated that black bears – the only species in Arizona – do not attack unless provoked. In 2011, a bear attacked one man in Pinetop, nearly 200 miles from where Jackson was killed.
“This was an especially aggressive, unprovoked attack that reminds us that wildlife can be unpredictable,” said Todd Geiler of Prescott, a member of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. “Our hearts go out to Mr. Jackson’s family over today’s tragic incident.”
The government urged residents to not shoot bears unless they pose an imminent threat to people in Arizona. Only 15 reports have been made of bears attacking people in a non-fatal manner in Arizona since 1990.