My Thoughts, Exactly » Jim Chase

Round, Brown & 400 Pounds

If you were out of town with no access to television or the Internet, you could be forgiven for not knowing that the Crescenta Valley had a 400-pound, fur-covered, dumpster-diving visitor of the bear persuasion in the early morning hours the Tuesday after Easter.

During the morning in question, multiple news helicopters hovered for hours over the neighborhood homes and apartments near Montrose, Mayfield and Briggs avenues. And hovered. And hovered. Ironically, when the all-important Live Breaking News!! shot interrupted the morning programming of local stations, the bear was often nowhere to be seen having taken cover under the canopy of trees or a patio awning. Ya gotta love live television “news.”

One camera on the KTLA chopper, however, did happen to catch a local man committing WWT – walking while texting – who was so painfully oblivious to his surroundings that he very nearly came phone-to-snout with the roaming bruin. When he finally looked up from whatever critically important conversation he was involved in on his mobile phone, his reaction was as instinctively panicked as it was hilarious to watch on video. It was a classic moment made for YouTube and as such, within hours was being viewed and the link forwarded all over the world.

Various media outlets across the nation picked up the footage of the too-close encounter and re-televised it for their own local broadcasts. Even a good friend of mine in Louisville, Ky. emailed mid-week to ask how close our house was to the marauding bear. Hey, at least the various media accurately pegged our location as either “La Crescenta” or “Montrose” or “Montrose-La Crescenta” instead of close-but-no-cigar “Glendale” like they normally do.

According to news reports during and after the massive mobilization of media and law enforcement equipment and personnel, the wild, wandering trash thief was eventually heavily tranquilized, transported deep into the Angeles National Forest and released back into the wild from whence he came. According to eyewitnesses, the male bear was “groggy and grumpy” as he was freed from his cage.

Although zoologists would call our recent furry forager Ursus americanus, the male bear was likely one named “Meatball” by residents who’ve reportedly spotted him in various CV neighborhoods rummaging for leftover meatballs in outdoor refrigerators.

As I’ve mentioned, our family has spent considerable time in the Mammoth Lakes area over the years. We’ve seen first hand the results of human interactions with the substantial local bear population in this small resort town and it isn’t always positive. In fact, wildlife experts who deal with this problem on a daily basis often say that, “a fed bear is a dead bear.” By this they mean that allowing bears to rummage through trash cans and camp grounds or eat pet food that has been left out only draws the powerful and dangerous animals into repeated contact with humans. This can ultimately lead to a bear’s death as it becomes more emboldened and aggressive in searching for these easy sources of food. Also, because bears naturally come to associate human activity with a so-called food reward and often return to the same location even after relocation, often the only solution is, sadly, to eliminate the bear.

With that in mind, I sure hope that our local meatball-seeking bruin that made national news last week is smarter than the average bear and stays far, far away from the Crescenta Valley from now on. Because, as much as we’d all love to think of bears as having names like Yogi and Boo Boo (or Meatball) – and of being harmless unless you happen to be a pik-a-nick basket – the reality is much different. The bear they captured on Montrose Avenue last week was fortunate to have wound up with only a sedative hangover and a craving for Italian food.

Then again, maybe I should rethink my own daily activities, too. After all, “groggy and grumpy” and on the prowl for meatballs could very easily describe yours truly any given day. Maybe I’d better watch out for news helicopters hovering overhead.

I’ll see you ‘round town.


© 2011 WordChaser, Inc.
Jim Chase is an award-
winning advertising copywriter and native of Southern California. Readers are invited to “friend” his My Thoughts Exactly page on Facebook.  Also visit Jim’s new blog with past columns and additional
thoughts at: http://

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