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Meatball-loving bear to be sent to Colorado sanctuary

Glen Bearian, as the 400-pound black bear became known on Twitter, is trapped in La Cañada Flintridge after his third visit to civilization.

August 30, 2012|By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
  • Glen Bearian, a 400-pound black bear who has been repeatedly spotted in the Glendale area, was taken to a quarantine site Wednesday. His next move will be to a bear sanctuary northeast of Denver.
Glen Bearian, a 400-pound black bear who has been repeatedly spotted in… (California Department…)

In the end, a hungry bear simply could not resist a little bacon and honey.

Back from the Angeles National Forest for a third round of visiting, the 400-pound black bear who has captivated Angelenos since March was roaming the 5000 block of Ocean View Boulevard in La Cañada Flintridge around 4 a.m. Wednesday when he sniffed the sweet smell of breakfast.

Glen Bearian, as he became affectionately known on Twitter, had previously consumed meatballs, oranges and anything else left in trash bins. True to form, he followed his nose straight into a culvert trap, according to officials with the California Department of Fish and Game. The trap snapped shut and was hitched to a truck.

PHOTOS: Southern California's backyard bears

Hours later, the animal also known as Meatball wandered out of the trap and into a quarantine cage in the town of Alpine, near the Cleveland National Forest, miles and miles from the place he had come to call home. As early as next week, he'll be in a new home at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.

"He's crying a little bit," said Bobbi Brink, founder and director of Lions Tigers & Bears in Alpine, late Wednesday afternoon. "He's looking around, and trying to figure out, 'What the heck?'"

So ends one chapter in the saga that has unfolded in pieces on television, Twitter and YouTube.

Word of a large black bear having broken into a residential garage in La Crescenta in March quickly captured the public's attention. Bears are spotted routinely in the area, but this one had managed to open a refrigerator and munch on Costco meatballs.

"It's a huge relief," said Sarah Aujero, 29, who started the Twitter handle @TheGlendaleBear and named him Glen Bearian. "He needs a place where he … can have all the food and facilities for him to have a happy life."

Over time, Glen Bearian gained more than 28,000 Twitter followers as the real bear made multiple return visits to the area. He swam in pools and slept in a tree, forcing wildlife officials to tranquilize and move him — twice in a matter of months — deep into the Angeles National Forest.

Each time, Glen Bearian came back, apparently still hungry and hot.

La Crescenta resident Lisa Dupuy, 51, got some of the most recent up-close views of the bear Tuesday morning.

"I went to go answer the phone, I looked out the window, and he was standing there, 5 feet away," she said. "It was like an apparition. Our gazes locked for a minute."

Then she slid a few windows shut, and the bear wandered into her frontyard and across the street. When she heard the news of the bear's capture Wednesday, she expressed relief for both herself and the animal.

"I was afraid to go out in the yard yesterday, I really was," Dupuy said. "But I feel like I kind of know the bear now. We were looking at each other, and I want him to be safe."

The bear had visited the area multiple times over the last week, said Andrew Hughan, a Fish and Game spokesman. After consulting with a wildlife biologist, officials decided to set a trap in the La Cañada Flintridge area late Tuesday.

A warden arrived by 7 a.m., and by 2 p.m. Glen Bearian was lapping up water in Alpine, east of San Diego.

Brink said her facility will serve as a temporary home until the bear can be taken to the sanctuary northeast of Denver — probably sometime next week. Until then, he'll stay in a 15-by-20-foot quarantine cage.

Pat Craig, executive director of the sanctuary, said what awaits is a 720-acre habitat where more than 80 bears roam free and that has underground dens for hibernating. Craig, who has been following the bear, noted that they sometimes do get food donations that can include meatballs and lasagna.

"The great thing is that bears, they get incredible food here. And that's the No. 1 thing bears live for," Craig said. "It's actually kind of like the Club Med for bears."

Aujero, who has been fundraising for the move by selling T-shirts and buttons online, said Glen Bearian will keep tweeting even after he goes out of state.

"The point of this whole thing was for the bear not to die and to be safe," she said. "This isn't going to be the end of bears and wildlife, but this bear was truly special."

matt.stevens@latimes.com

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