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Black bear captured, returned to Angeles National Forest

Using tranquilizer darts, wildlife officers catch a bear that had been roaming Glendale. Now the creature is 25 miles from civilization, nursing 'a heck of a hangover.'

April 11, 2012|By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
  • A black bear weighing 400 pounds strolls through the frontyard of a home in La Crescenta on Tuesday morning before being captured.
A black bear weighing 400 pounds strolls through the frontyard of a home… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

By all accounts, the 400-pound black bear, now synonymous with Glendale, is very, very smart. Smarter, authorities say, than the average bear.

After he discovered Costco meatballs in a resident's refrigerator about a month ago, authorities say, the bear has returned to the same house in the 3800 block of Cedarbend Drive three times seeking the same dinner. He even monitored trash schedules in multiple neighborhoods, nailing down the days when he could nab free food.

But on Tuesday, the meatball-lovingbear'sgood fortune ran out. He was felled by multiple tranquilizer darts in a drama that unfolded on morning television, then was carted deep into the Angeles National Forest with what California Department of Fish and Game officials described as a "heck of a hangover."

"I feel sorry for it. It's just down here trying to survive," said Tod Sciacqua, 44, of Montrose. "This is what happens when you build homes against the forest. We encroach on their land, they end up in our backyards. That's the way it goes."

The bear, who is impersonated on Twitter as "Glen Bearian," had his fate sealed sometime after 6 a.m. Tuesday when Department of Fish and Game Lt. Martin Wall was summoned to Montrose after police received four reports of bear sightings.

By about 7:30 a.m., the bear had been struck twice by tranquilizer darts, Wall said. About an hour later, the specialist was mixing chemicals for another dart in the back of a truck bed when a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy approached and told him: "We've got to end this thing."

So after a militant two-block march to Montrose Avenue, Wall hand-injected a third dart into the sleepy but not asleep bear. That did the trick. Within minutes, Wall and seven deputies used a blanket to carry the knocked-out ursine out of a narrow apartment complex gate.

"It's like moving a water bed without a frame," Wall said afterward.

In front of dozens of locals — some dressed in pajamas, others carrying their children on their shoulders — authorities slid the blanketed bear into the cage for transport. When the door slammed shut, the spectators let out a cheer, saying the applause was as much for their own renewed safety as for the bear that became the town's mascot.

"It's sort of the local legend of Montrose," Pam Raines, 58, said of the bear. "He's never hurt anybody."

"We get coyotes all the time and they're more dangerous than the bears that come down here," added Chris Lagerstrom, 31, of La Crescenta. "We love cuddly bears."

Deputies, however, were taking no chances, banging on residents' doors about 6 a.m. Tuesday to warn them of the bear. Valerie Jordan, 65, lives on Mayfield Avenue, a block from where the animal was eventually detained. She said authorities warned her to stay inside because a bear was nearby.

"It tore through these plants, tore some of my old fence and was cornered behind this little rental house," Jordan said, pointing as she walked through an overgrown backyard nearby. Weeks ago, authorities said, the bear picked an orange from a tree, and Tuesday, Jordan pointed at bear poop that had been marked by authorities. It sat directly beneath a tangerine tree.

"I think everyone in this community was concerned about the bear's well-being," Jordan said. "Poor thing. It was terribly frightened."

Department of Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan said that the bear was "groggy and grumpy but doing well" after being released 25 miles deep into the Angeles National Forest about 1 p.m.

"He just wandered out, looked around, and took stock of his surroundings," Hughan said. "He's got a heck of a hangover, mostly."

And once the bear was released, he had no trouble finding an Internet connection among the trees

"Does a bear tweet in the woods?" Glen Bearian asked on Twitter late Tuesday afternoon. "Yes. Yes, he does."

matt.stevens@latimes.com

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