By Mary O’KEEFE
A bear was found in the backyard of a home in the 2600 block of Prospect Avenue about 2 p.m. on Wednesday. It was eventually tranquilized and transported to the mountains ending an almost 24 hour bear odyssey that included barking dogs, helicopters and calls to the sheriff’s station.
“Our dog started barking [Tuesday] night at something. We found our garbage cans overturned,” said resident Carolyn Okonck.
The Okoncks had spotted what looked like a bear late Tuesday night. There were several calls that came into the sheriff’s station during the night as well, according to sheriff officials, reporting bear sightings.
Helicopters buzzed overhead for about an hour with search lights looking into backyards. The next morning Okonck left her home and when she returned in the afternoon she found what appeared to be bear scat in her backyard.
“I knew it wasn’t our dogs,” she said.
Her gardeners had worked in the backyard but ignored the scat and continued trimming. Then her dog began to bark again at something in the yard.
“He came face to face with the bear,” she said. “The bear was not aggressive.”
Okonck called the sheriff and they showed up with Los Angeles County Fish and Game officials.
The bear had crawled into a secluded, tree covered area of the lawn and slept while emergency officials made plans for his future. Fish and Game officers along with sheriffs attempted to coax him out of its slice of tree heaven, the plan to perhaps herd it back to a mountain home. However the 100 pound bear was apparently tired after its La Crescenta adventure and was not going to budge. Officials, armed with a plan and tranquilizer gun, woke the bear to tranquilize it. The bear was gently heaved onto a rescue cage and carried away from the Okonck’s backyard to his waiting transportation.
There were rumors that he had awoke on the way to his mountain home, however those could not be confirmed.
“They darted him and took him to the mountains,” confirmed Deputy Steve Toley. The bear was released in Horse Flats about 7:55 p.m. where he will hopefully find enough food but due to the Station Fire the area is still rather desolate.