Meatball, the bear that just couldn’t stay away from the Crescenta Valley, now has a new – and permanent – home.
By Mary O’KEEFE
The sounds of trashcans being knocked over in the night couldn’t be denied – Meatball was back in the Crescenta Valley.
The meatball-loving bear, also known as Glen Bearian, had once again found his way to Crescenta Valley after being captured and transported in July back into the Angeles National Forest. Over the past several nights he has been seen in several backyards and pools.
The bear was becoming less fearful of humans and freely roamed from yard to yard.
But on Wednesday morning, Meatball was captured and transported to a San Diego wildlife facility where he will be safe, said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.
“[Meatball] was on the verge of being a problem. His behavior was more and more brazen,” Hughan said.
Olivia and Steve Brown, who live in the 5500 block of Ocean View Boulevard, noticed the bear in their backyard – regularly – and knew without a doubt it was Meatball thanks to his distinctive 210-earring tag.
“We observed his behavior every night and he seemed [like a bear] that had been raised in captivity,” Olivia said.
The Browns are used to seeing bears in the area and Meatball stood out as being different. Usually bears are a little skittish when it comes to humans.
“Even with our entire whole backyard lit up and my dogs barking, he would come up to the [back window],” Olivia said. “He never showed any aggression or any fear. That made me concerned.”
Olivia is a public safety commissioner for the city of La Cañada Flintridge. She knew the safety concerns for both the residents and the bear.
She worried that since Meatball had become a media darling and seemed to have no fear of humans, it may be forgotten that he is a wild animal.
“Someone may feel comfortable and try to feed him,” she said.
So she contacted Fish and Game and CV Sheriffs and together they came up with a plan to capture him.
“A DFG Game Warden used his experience and training to set a culvert trap baited with bacon and honey and captured the bear at approximately 4 a.m. this morning,” Hughan stated in a release on Wednesday.
The bear was transported to the Lions, Tigers and Bears rehabilitation and animal sanctuary in Alpine, Calif., north of San Diego, arriving at 1:20 p.m. on Wednesday.
At this time the bear is safe and secure and resting comfortably.
“As a wildlife agency, our goal is always to keep animals wild, but in this case the best interest of the bear was to capture and relocate him to a safe and secure facility,” Hughan said.
The bear that couldn’t keep away from the foothills first appeared in the Crescenta Valley in March when he dined on spoiled chicken and meatballs in a garage refrigerator in the Glenwood Oaks area. He was captured in April after he was found roaming through the backyards in the 2500 block of Mayfield and Montrose avenues. A bright orange 210 tag was affixed to his ear and he was released into the Angeles National Forest.
In June he returned and was seen, among other places, in the backyard of the Canyonside Road home of the MacDonald family where he roamed around and ate some fruit off the trees. He subsidized his diet with more garbage.
As the number of Meatball sightings grew, residents of Crescenta Valley learned to live with this familiar bear. Then he traveled down to the very busy Foothill Boulevard near New York Avenue. He had climbed a tree in the 4500 block of Fredrick Avenue. Fish and Game officers coaxed him down and then shot him with a tranquilizer. He ended up running north following the wash that goes behind homes until the tranquilizer finally took hold.
For the second time he was transported to Angeles National Forest where Fish and Game officials had hoped he would stay, but the call of fresh garbage and beautiful pools was just too much and once again he returned to the area.
His trip to the San Diego facility will keep Meatball out of harm’s way.
The danger to wildlife in the area became apparent on Sunday when a small bear was hit by a car in La Cañada. He was less fortunate than Meatball.
That bear was estimated to be about a year old and weighed about 160 pounds. It had found its way to Foothill Boulevard near Gould Avenue. At about 7 a.m. on Sunday it was struck by a vehicle. The bear ran into nearby bushes. Later that day it was discovered on Gould Avenue behind Starbucks.
Fish and Game and sheriff deputies found the bear that eventually had to be euthanized.
“The injuries were catastrophic,” Hughan said. “He would not have survived.”