A tragic fatal bear attack recently took place in Arizona’s Yavapai County. According to a statement from the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO), the unexpected attack took place on the morning of June 16. “At approximately 7:50 this morning, the YCSO dispatch center received multiple 911 calls about a man who was being mauled by a bear in the Groom Creek Area,” wrote the agency on the day of the attack. “When YCSO deputies and Prescott PD arrived at the scene, which was in a heavily wooded remote area, they found Steven Jackson, 66 years old of Tucson dead of an apparent bear attack, and the bear dead nearby.”

According to several witnesses, Jackson sitting at a table on his property, where he was building a house, having a morning coffee when the bear caught him by surprise, before dragging him 75 feet down an embankment. “Neighbors who heard the victim screaming tried to intervene through shouts and car horns, but the bear did not let go of Jackson until one neighbor was able to retrieve his rifle and shoot the bear,” wrote the YCSO. “Unfortunately, by that time Jackson had succumbed to his horrible injuries.”

Fatal black bear attacks are extremely rare—especially ones predatory in nature, which this incident appears to be. Before this one, the most recent fatal black bear attack in the United States took place near Durango in 2021, when a woman was mauled and partially eaten.

In the Arizona attack, the offending bear was an adult male. Officials are still investigating the incident but so far have not found any evidence of unsecured food or cooking items that could have attracted the bear. The site of the attack is not near any camping areas. “Officials at the moment do not have a theory other than a predatory response by the bear,” explained the YCSO. “Officials still caution revelers to take precautions when camping, such as locking up food in a vehicle and not leaving out items such as toothpaste that may bring a bear to your campsite.”

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“Our sincere sympathies go out to Mr. Jackson’s family,” said Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes. “I cannot express how deeply sad this situation is and can only say our prayers are with you.”