Glendale’s Meatball-Loving Bear Run Out of Town

By ABC News

Jul 16, 2012 3:25pm
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California' famous meatball-eating black bear was sent back to the wild Sunday after he returned to Los Angeles. (Kelly MacDonald/AP Photo)

ABC News’ Audree Steinberg reports:

Los Angeles’ newest star, the popular Glendale bear, has been sent back to the woods in hopes he won’t return, after his latest appearance in search of an easy meal.

The California black bear, whom locals have nicknamed “Glen Bearian” and “Meatball,” was spotted Sunday morning sleeping 75 feet up in a tree.

Glendale police and deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene at around 7 a.m. Sunday and secured the area. Officers surrounded the tree, located on the corner of Foothill and Frederick Avenue, waiting for the bear to climb down on his own.

After waiting approximately three hours, the senior warden of the California Department of Fish and Game fired bean bags from a shotgun at the bear, a process known as called hazing, and he finally started climbing down. As the bear reached 10 feet above the ground, another DFG warden fired a tranquilizer dart.

The bear then ran two blocks to a local high school, where a game warden fired a second tranquilizer dart, and after an additional tranquilizer shot, the bear fell asleep on the field.

After restraining the bear with animal handcuffs, the DFG wardens placed him in a culvert trap, essentially a large pipe with a door. “Glen Bearian” was then driven 25 miles and placed in the Angeles National Forest.

California Department of Fish and Game policy dictates that bears cannot be moved more than 30 miles away since officials would simply be moving the problem to another area. Rather than relocating bears, the department prefers to return bears to a “suitable habitat.”

According to a DFG spokesperson, this is the second incident with “Glen Bearian” in which the DFG had to intervene, the first one occurring in April. The DFG can also verify that photo evidence and witnesses can place the bear in backyards of homes along the forest.

“There’s a chance [the bear] could return. I’m saying 50-50, but it’s really impossible to say. We very much hope not. We very much hope that he stays over the hills and learns to live in the forest,” DFG Public Information Officer Andrew Hughan said.

The bear is attracted to people’s trash, since bears always look for the easiest meal, Hughan said. Bears see suburban neighborhoods with trashcans as centers for convenient food, so he advised people who live nearby with bear problems to be “extra vigilant” with their trashcans.

“It’s not a bear problem, it’s a people problem,” Hughan said.

Because of his frequent visits, “Glen Bearian” has become a local star. A Twitter persona has been created for the bear under the handle @TheGlendaleBear. The “tweeting” bear that discusses meatballs, running for mayor, eating trash, and his love for swimming pools has more than 24,000 followers.

It was lucky that the incident occurred on a Sunday morning, so there was no large crowd or media, Hughan said. A helicopter and media presence makes it harder to move the bear safely. Hughan claims that the bear’s online popularity doesn’t make it any harder for DFG wardens to do their jobs, but it does make the department stop and pause.

“After all these tranquilizer shots, they may need to drop me off at Celebrity Rehab…” the bear tweeted after the Sunday incident.

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