By Mary O’KEEFE
The bear that has been dining on garbage and causing a few nervous moments in the Glenwood Oaks and Mountain Oaks areas has been transported to a new home in the Angeles National Forest, but only after visiting one last neighborhood.
Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station received a call about a bear sighting at about 3 a.m. on Tuesday. They found the bear, estimated at 400 lbs., in the backyard of a home in the 2300 block of Mayfield Avenue at about 6 a.m., said Sgt. Mark Slater, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Crescenta Valley Station.
Tuesday was garbage day for the neighborhood and, true to form, the bear seemed to know when the trash bins would be set out.
“We know he is a male, and we are 99% certain he is the one that has been in the [local neighborhood],” said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for California Department of Fish and Game.
The bear first became a media darling when he was found munching on meatballs in a non-working refrigerator in the garage of a home on Beechglen Drive. In the days that followed he was seen throughout the Glenwood Oaks area in several backyards and tipping over garbage cans. Neighbors named him Meatball and most residents kept their trashcans in their garage and the doors shut.
He moved between Glenwood Oaks and Mountain Oaks, opening gates to backyards and going through garbage. Glendale police spent several nights responding to calls of bear sightings and patrolling the area.
He was even given his own Twitter page under “Glen Bearian.”
Then on Tuesday morning the bear ventured down to the Mayfield Avenue area. He went from backyard to backyard, surprising one man while he was texting and walking in his backyard. Officers from CV Sheriff’s and Fish and Game arrived, then followed the bear as it sauntered from home to home.
Fish and Game’s Lt. Marty Wall loaded the tranquilizer gun and, backed by sheriff’s deputies, found the bear and tranquilized him.
“He has been tranquilized but he is still moving,” Wall said. The bear crawled over a fence and finally came to rest near a potted plant alongside an apartment complex in the 2400 block of Montrose Avenue.
Several neighbors came out to see what was going on as news and sheriff helicopters circled the area.
“I heard the helicopter and saw my neighbor’s [home on the news],” said Landon Armstrong. “I live right across the street.”
The bear was tranquilized with two darts and another that was administrated manually, Hughan said.
Wall wanted to make certain the bear was in a deep sleep, especially with so many people around.
“We wouldn’t want the bear to wake up and take [a swipe] at a kid taking a picture,” Hughan said.
“You never want to be between where a bear is and where he wants to be,” Wall said.
After the bear was safely tranquilized, sheriff’s deputies and fish and game officers carried him to a tube-like bear cage and loaded him in for the trip to Angeles National Forest.
The many residents that had gathered around the apartment complex watched the bear being carried out. They applauded as the bear was safely loaded into the tube-cage.
Chanel, 3, and Brinae, 5, Yanez had been standing by patiently with their mother Ashanti Ramirez waiting for the bear to be carried out. Brinae said she was surprised how big the bear was.
When asked if it was scary, Chanel said she was not scared.
Although the bear originated in the Verdugo Mountains, Hughan said the bear would adapt to the forest.
“They are smart, industrious animals,” he said.
Although the bear got used to his easily accessible dining area in Glendale and La Crescenta, he was transported far enough into the forest that he should not find his way back to his old Crescenta Valley neighborhood.
“I think we got this guy early enough [before he got too used to the area],” Hughan said. “He won’t find his way back to [Montrose] Glendale but let’s hope he doesn’t find his way into another neighborhood.”
For now Meatball appears happy in his new home.
“He was good. They took him out of [the cage],” he said. “We spoke to the [game] warden and he said [the bear crawled] out of the trap (cage), grumpy and groggy but good.”
For more photos of Meatball, visit www.cvweekly.com.