By Mary O’Keefe
UPDATE 5:30 p.m. – After being informed by CV Weekly that Meatball had returned to the area and voicing his surprise, California Dept. Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan said, “We hope that Glen Bearian learned his lesson about eating from trash cans and freezers and stays away. We are not going to go looking for him and we encourage everyone to keep the areas around their home cleaned up and eliminate food that may tempt him.
If you see the bear please don’t feed or antagonize him, it’s a wild animal and is familiar with people.”
A local resident had a familiar visitor yesterday in her backyard – a bear.
Though not that uncommon to see a bear in the foothills, there was just something about him, however. It was his earring: “210.” Yes, it appears our La Crescenta-loving bear Meatball has returned.
Meatball was banished on April 11 far into Angeles National Forest, but apparently not quite far enough.
“It was during the day, about noon. I was unloading the car getting ready to do errands,” said Kelly MacDonald.
She and her Labrador were out in the front yard. She stopped to throw the ball for the dog.
“I went inside the house and [the Labrador] started barking. Not her normal bark but her mean, ferocious bark,” she said. “I went outside and she was barking toward the backyard.”
MacDonald has lived in the area for a long time and as seen her fair share of bobcats, mountain lions and, yes, even bears. She looked in the backyard and saw a “big, brown furry bear crawling around the bushes near our pool.”
Although she had seen wildlife near her home in the past seeing a bear so close was still exciting. She ran into the house, with her dog, and screamed at her mom that there was a bear in the backyard.
“They were not screams of fear but of excitement,” she said. “We grabbed our cameras.”
They both began photographing the bear from every angle, from the back living room to the balcony.
“He was up on the grass,” MacDonald said. “He looked like he was going to take a nap but then he crawled over the fence.”
Her home is close to the edge of the Angeles National Forest. The bear just went back into the forest.
The MacDonalds have found evidence of bears before in and around their Jacuzzi and in the backyard.
“Maybe this is the bear that took a dive into my Jacuzzi,” she added.
A few months before Meatball was found roaming around Whiting Woods – later found strolling along Mayfield Avenue – the MacDonalds’ had a bear around their home. Her father saw the bear using his night vision glasses. Since this bear seemed so comfortable and familiar with the area, MacDonald is now wondering if Meatball had made an appearance in her neighborhood before.
The bear was dubbed Meatball because of his culinary choices during his April appearances in the Whiting Woods area. He had opened a refrigerator in a garage and eaten chicken and meatballs. He was sighted about every night for weeks as he roamed the area, opening garbage cans and looking for stray pic-a-nic baskets (reference for those Yogi Bear fans).
Eventually he made his way to Mayfield Avenue where the California Department of Fish and Game and Crescenta Valley Sheriff personnel followed him as he went from backyard to backyard. He was shot with a tranquilizer dart, about five of them, climbed over a fence and went to sleep on the side of an apartment complex on Montrose Avenue.
He was tagged with a red “210” on his left ear and transported to the Angeles National Forest where he was photographed by Fish and Game slowly climbing out of the cage. He was groggy but healthy and walked into the forest.