An Arizona man died Friday after he was attacked by a black bear that dragged him down an embankment before it was fatally shot by a neighbor, officials said.
Steven Jackson, 66, died in an unprovoked attack Friday morning in a wooded area of Yavapai County, the county sheriff’s office said.
Jackson, of Tucson, was sitting at a table having a coffee on a site where he was building a cabin when the adult male bear attacked him, the sheriff’s office said.
There was a struggle, and Jackson called out for help and neighbors responded, Sheriff David Rhodes said.
“They tried to get the bear to stop attacking him, there was honking horns, different things they were doing,” Rhodes said. “There was no success in stopping the attack.”
The bear dragged Jackson about 75 feet down an embankment before a neighbor arrived with a rifle and shot the animal to stop the attack, Rhodes said. By that time Jackson was dead.
The sheriff’s office received multiple 911 calls about a bear mauling someone around 7:50 a.m., and deputies as well as police and animal control officers from nearby Prescott responded, officials said.
Jackson had been at the campsite in the Groom Creek area for some time, and it was not unusual for him to be at the property, the sheriff’s office said.
There doesn’t appear to have been any food or anything else obvious that would have attracted a bear, it said.
Officials are confident that the bear responsible was killed, and there is no threat of other aggressive animals to the public.
The bear that attacked Jackson is estimated to be 6 to 10 years old, but more investigation was ongoing, Darren Tucker, a field supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said.
A necropsy, or an autopsy conducted on an animal, will also be done, he said.
Sightings of bears around the Prescott area are common, and there is a robust population of black bears in the state, but Tucker said attacks like Friday’s are “super rare.” He believed the last fatal bear attack in the state was in 2011.
Bears and mountain lions are also caught on doorbell cameras and other home surveillance video, he said.
“We have had zero reports of any kind of aggressive or threatening behavior from a bear anywhere around here,” Tucker said.
The sheriff sought to remind the public Friday that they cannot shoot bears unless the bear is a threat to themselves or someone else.
“These are exceeding rare circumstances and we haven’t seen this before,” he said. “We don’t want people to freak out, shoot bears, shoot animals.”
The Groom Creek area is a heavily wooded area around 5 miles south of Prescott, a city north of Phoenix,