After visiting La Crescenta neighborhoods, Meatball hitched a ride back to the ANF.
By Mary O’KEEFE
The bear known as Meatball, aka Glen Bearian, has once again traveled deep into the Angeles National Forest, courtesy of the Department of Fish and Game.
Early Sunday morning the bear strolled down from the Angeles National Forest apparently traveling the wash that runs west of New York Avenue.
“We began receiving calls around 6 a.m. about a bear in [La Crescenta] neighborhoods and in the wash,” said Glendale Police Dept. spokesperson Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
The GPD saw the bear walking in the 4500 block of Frederick Avenue just north of Foothill Boulevard. As is their practice, the GPD officers attempted to herd the bear back toward the forest using loud noise.
Instead of the bear going north, he went up – about 50 feet into a tree. GPD called Fish and Game.
“It is our policy to contact Fish and Game as soon as we receive a sighting,” said Lorenz.
In response to the many recent sightings, Fish and Game officers from Sacramento had met with Lorenz as recently as last week to review policies with Glendale Police Dept.
Fish and Game officers arrived and assessed the situation. They decided to use a gun that fired beanbags at Meatball to encourage him to climb down from his high perch. They knew they could not tranquilize the bear at that height for fear that he would be injured or killed if he fell.
Montrose Search and Rescue Captain John Camphouse and team member Doug Cramoline were heading to the ANF for patrol when they saw the commotion on Frederick. They stopped to assist when they saw Fish and Game officers.
“They used the bean bags which brought the bear down lower,” said Cramoline. He said that the bear was then shot with a tranquilizer once he got on the ground.
“And then he took off running,” said resident Brock Hendricks.
Though tranquilized, Meatball was alert enough to go behind one of the nearby homes and head north up the wash.
“He stopped behind the lower ball field at Clark,” said Lorenz.
By then the tranquilizer began to take effect and another was administered, said Lt. Martin Wall of Fish and Game.
It was determined that because of Meatball’s location, the easiest path was to bring him into a waiting Fish and Game truck on Clark’s field.
Fish and Game, Montrose Search and Rescue and police officers all worked on getting the 400-pound bear up and out of the wash and into the waiting Fish and Game pick up truck. The bear was driven across the soccer field for a quick once over by residents and waiting video cameras.
From there, he was brought back to the Frederick neighborhood where he was lifted into a waiting bear cage.
It was a busy morning for a usually quiet Sunday, said Hendricks.
“My mom said, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of people out here with guns…you should come and see,” he recalled.
“The Fish and Game officers did a fabulous job,” said mom Danna Hendricks. “It was clear that the bear’s well being was their top priority. They did everything they could to make sure the bear was well taken care of.”
“Everybody was excited about the bear being in the neighborhood,” said fellow resident Presley Hubschmidt. “Usually I just work at Starbucks.”
Meatball received his name originally in March when he visited a home on Beechwood Drive and helped himself to some chicken, and meatballs, in a non-working freezer. He continued to dine on garbage throughout the neighborhoods until he ventured to the 2500 block of Mayfield Avenue. Fish and Game was called out and, this time with help from Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s deputies, tranquilized Meatball who jumped a wall and ended up passed out in the exterior hallway of an apartment complex on Montrose Avenue. He was tagged with the number 210, which was randomly chosen but most appropriate.
Fish and Game put him in the bear cage and took him to Angeles National Forest. Then on June 28, he was found roaming in the backyard of a Canyonside Road home. It was easy to see it was in fact Meatball thanks to the 210 tag.
The bear, safely transported back into the forest, will hopefully find enough food there to keep him from returning back to Crescenta Valley.
“[The bear] was (left) in the same general location but farther into the forest,” said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for Fish and Game.
Whether Meatball makes his way back to the area, “it’s up to the bear,” said Wall. “He’ll go to where the food and water is.”
“Bears eat mostly grubs, bugs, fruit and fish if they are hungry,” Hughan said. “But even if they were sitting next to an avocado tree, if there was a garbage can nearby they would go for the garbage.”
“We have to educate residents to put their trash out of the way – in the garage if possible – and not to put their trash out the night before pick up,” said Lorenz. “It’s the food supply they’re coming after.”
The fate of the bear depends on his behavior if he returns. On Sunday Meatball just went too far south.
“If the bear had turned left instead of right and ended up on the [more populated] Foothill Boulevard it may have been a different [outcome],” Hughan said.
Again it goes back to residents keeping garbage in check.
“I know it’s a lot of extra effort, but put more food in the garbage disposal,” Hughan said. “When you throw things away, ask yourself, ‘Is this bear food?’”