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Southern California Bear Sightings

Sightings of American black bears in Southern California neighborhoods, particularly near mountains ranges in the area, are not uncommon. But the bruins do cause a commotion, often prompting a response from law enforcement and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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Southern Californians can expect the spectacle of bears bounding through foothill neighborhoods — such as the bruin that took five tranquilizer darts to be subdued in Granada Hills Tuesday — to continue as animals prepare for winter, a state wildlife official said.


A bear that ran suburban Granada Hills Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, took nearly 12 hours to subdue amid intense media coverage. (Credit: KTLA)

Bears seeking food before their months of hibernation will likely come down from the mountains into developed areas for the next few weeks, according to California Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan.

“It’s very normal fall behavior,” Hughan said. “They’re bulking up for winter; they’re getting their fat layer.”

His comments came on Wednesday morning as state wildlife officials were transporting the bear that wardens spent nearly 12 hours pursuing in a suburban Los Angeles neighborhood the previous day.

The bear was being taken to an undisclosed wilderness location in the Los Padres National Forest, hopefully far enough away from humans and their tempting food smells that he won’t return, Hughan said.

The 150-pound male bear — about 3 years old, a “teenager,” Hughan said — was pursued after being spotted in a tree near a Granada Hills school. He ran repeatedly across a golf course, taking in four tranquilizer darts but eluding police officers and wardens.

“He did not want to go down,” Hughan said. “He’s big and strong and very willful.…The warden on the scene said he’d never seen  bear take that much tranquilizer and still go.”

Eventually, the bear was discovered in thick juniper and darted a fifth time before being taken overnight to a secure state wildlife facility, Hughan said.

In the morning, the bear was being transported to a secret spot in Los Padres National Forest, a 1.75 million-acre expanse that stretches from Ventura County to  Big Sur.


A bear who wandered the foothills in Pasadena on Oct. 24, 2013, prompted the temporary closure of the 210 Freeway. (Credit: KTLA)

The bear had been captured before, but Hughan didn’t know the circumstances that led to the tag in the animal’s left ear. During his Granada Hills adventure, the bear did nothing “wrong” — such as damaging property or breaking into a home — so he gets a “free pass” and will simply be tranquilized and returned to wilderness if he comes back, Hughan said.

The Granada Hills bear — which has no official name, per state wildlife policy — generated considerable interest from the public and news media, as did a bear that led officials on a chase near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last week.

Despite increased attention to bear runs through residential areas, there’s no actual uptick in the number of bruins who descend into developed neighborhoods, Hughan said.

There is, however, increased attention due to social media use by those who spot bears — and corresponding interest in local news media, Hughan stated.

“Bears have taken over car chases in Los Angeles,” Hughan said. “There’s no science that says there’s more bears, it’s just more reporting.”

Authorities on Tuesday searched a Granada Hills neighborhood for hours for a black bear that ran through backyards and across a golf course after climbing a 50-foot tree near a church and school.


A warden takes aim at a bear running through a Granada Hills neighborhood on Tuesday evening. (Credit: KTLA)

The bear was eventually tranquilized and transported by state wildlife wardens just before 6 p.m. following an intermittent pursuit that began some 11 hours earlier.

Los Angeles Police Department officers and California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials responded about 7 a.m., when the bear was initially spotted at the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew & St. Charles, located in the 16000 block of Rinaldi Street (map), in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley.

Officers were seen escorting schoolchildren to bungalows at a safe distances from the bear, which had been tagged behind its left ear, indicating a previous encounter with humans.

The animal remained in the tree for more than an hour as officials weighed multiple options to compel him to come down.

It finally climbed down after an LAPD helicopter hovered close enough for its rotor wash to rattle the tree’s branches. The animal then fled, despite apparently being shot with a tranquilizer dart, bounding onto the Knollwood Golf Course.

Authorities on foot and overhead gave chase, but the subject proved elusive for several hours. The bear was again spotted at about 5 p.m. running across the golf course.

Wardens and television news cameras were pursuing the animal through the residential neighborhood, and the bear appeared to stumble on a hillside after being again hit by a tranquilizer dart.

Wardens and LAPD officers recovered the animal after it passed out under a bougainvillea bush in the backyard of a home on Knollwood Drive at Susan Drive, dragging it up the hill, aerial video showed.

Wildlife officials on scene said the animal would be transported deeper into the Angeles National Forest than the bear had been taken before.

Wildlife officials tweeted that the bear will held overnight and then taken to the Los Padres National Forest in the morning.


After an hours-long pursuit, authorities loaded the bear into a truck for transport. (Credit: KTLA)

The area where the bear was found Tuesday is less than 2 miles from the foothills of the Santa Susana Mountains, which provide natural habitat for American black bears.

Bear sightings in Southern California communities near area mountains are not uncommon. Just last week, a bear ran for hours through Pasadena, even approaching the 210 Freeway, temporarily prompting authorities to stop traffic.

KTLA’s John Moreno, Melissa Pamer and Carolyn Costello contributed to this report.

After an hours-long search that went past sunset, wildlife officials backed off their pursuit of a California black bear that was discovered roaming a residential neighborhood near Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Thursday afternoon, prompting a law enforcement response.


A bear wandered the foothills near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, coming very close to the 210 Freeway on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. (Credit: KTLA)

The bear was reported before 3:30 p.m. on the premises of 524 Palisades St., the address of Cleveland Elementary School, according to Pasadena police. The Pasadena Unified School District sent a notice to parents about an hour later that school had been dismissed and all was OK.

Law enforcement and wildlife officials responded, and several appeared to be armed with firearms, apparently for discharging a tranquilizer dart.

Two California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens were on scene, the department said on Twitter.

“Remember this is a scared, wild animal,” the department tweeted.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported that the bear had been tranquilized, but the Department of Fish and Wildlife later said that the bear had, in fact, not been darted.

At one point in the afternoon, the bear was seen roaming near the eastbound 210 Freeway exit to Arroyo Boulevard, coming extremely close to guardrails next to moving traffic.

CHP officers temporarily shut down eastbound lanes at about 4:25 p.m. The sheriff’s department warned drivers to avoid the area.

The animal then left a hillside area near the freeway and bounded across the north end of Brookside Golf Course toward Linda Vista Avenue. The animal was last seen in trees near the 1800 block of Linda Vista Avenue, aerial video showed.

After the bear disappeared into trees and brush, a search continued for about two hours until wardens backed off.

“Bear is safe in heavy brush and has a safe route” to the Angeles National Forest, the wildlife department said on Twitter just before 7 p.m.

The Arroyo Seco could provide a fairly narrow path north for the bear to return to the San Gabriel Mountains, where bear sightings in foothill communities are not uncommon.

The department warned area residents to be aware that a wild animal was nearby.

Pasadena resident Elisa Gonzales, one of many residents gathered to watch the bear and its pursuers, said she was “feeling sorry” for the animal.

She was “wondering how scared he is, because of the helicopter noise and everybody chasing him,” Gonzales said.


Authorities were looking for the bear on a fire road Thursday.

A 3-year-old bear found dead Tuesday in the Antelope Valley was positively identified as the same bear that was running loose in Baldwin Park early Friday morning, wildlife officials said.


A black bear was found dead in the community of Littlerock on Tuesday. The same bear was found running loose in Baldwin Park on Friday. (credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Officials were called to a residence Tuesday in Littlerock, where the 275-pound male California black bear was said to be sleeping on the porch, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan.

When officials approached the bear, they found it had died of injuries consistent with a vehicle collision, he said in a statement. It was taken to Los Angeles County Animal control for further examination.

The bear traveled more than 30 miles north to Littlerock after it was tranquilized and released into the Angeles National Forest on Friday. He was identified using an ear tag, Hughan said.

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A large bear was captured Friday morning, after it was spotted wandering around a neighborhood in Baldwin Park, authorities said.


A large bear was found wandering in a residential area (Oct. 11, 2013, Baldwin Park)

The animal was first seen walking near the corner of Romona Boulevard and Badillo Street (map), officials said.

The sighting was unusual in such an urban area, Andrew Hughan of California Department of Fish and Wildlife told KTLA 5.

The area where the bear was first seen is several miles from the San Gabriel Mountain foothills, where bear sightings in residential neighborhoods are not unusual.

Several residents called 911 and reported the bear was climbing walls, fences and a tree.

Department of Fish and Wildlife crews arrived on the scene around 6:30 a.m. and tranquilized the bear. They loaded it into a truck without incident and hauled it back to the wild.

The bear appeared to weigh about 275 pounds, Hughan said.


A team from California Fish and Game tranquilized the bear (Oct. 11, 2013, Baldwin Park)

The bear was probably drawn to the area by the scent of food, and was too far away from the woods to find its way back, according to Hughan.

It was “6 miles from open space,” Hughan said.

GLENDALE Calif. (KTLA) — “Meatball” the bear, who became something of a local celebrity last year, could be the main attraction of Glendale’s next Rose Parade float.

The 400-pound black bear got his nickname after being caught noshing on frozen meatballs from a garage refrigerator in Glendale.


A sketch shows the proposed “Meatball” float.

Meatball found his way into foothill neighborhoods three different times.

The bear became popular among local residents, spawning a Twitter account and even Meatball merchandise.

Following each of the first two incidents, he was tranquilized and transported back deep into the Angeles National Forest.

However, after his third visit last August, state wildlife officials took the bear to the Lions Tigers & Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine, in San Diego County.

The Glendale City Council now wants to honor Meatball with its float for the 2014 Rose Parade.

Sketches of the proposed float feature an animatronic bear popping out of a garbage can.

It would be Glendale’s 100th entry into the Rose Parade.

It would also be its most expensive parade float, costing about $155,000 for the city.

City officials were hoping to raise about half of that sum, or $75,000, from corporate and community sponsors.

However, so far, they have only been raised $10,000 from a local developer and $160 from community support, leaving the fate of the float in question.

AZUSA, Calif. (KTLA) — Fish and Wildlife officials rescued a baby bear that got stuck inside a trash bin Sunday night in a forest parking lot in Azusa.

Azusa police received a call around 10:30 p.m. about a mother bear and a cub trying to get another cub out of a dumpster.


The trapped bear cub climbs out of the trash bin.

Video shows the two bears climbing on the trash bin and pawing at it.

Police passed the call on to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Fish and Wildlife officials used lights and sirens to scare the bears away long enough to open the lid and free the cub.

The baby bear climbed out of the bin with some trash still stuck to its head.

The cub was trapped for about an hour and twenty minutes before being reunited with its family.

ARCADIA, Calif. (KTLA) — A mother bear and two cubs were spotted roaming through a neighborhood in Arcadia late Tuesday night.


A mother bear and her two cubs were spotted in Arcadia.

It all unfolded around 10:45 p.m. in the 2200 block of Highland Oaks Drive.

The mother bear was seen first after she had been rummaging through some trash cans. Then, a short time later, two cubs climbed down from a tree to join her.

The bears eventually headed back into the hills.

There have been several bear sightings in foothill neighborhoods in Southern California in recent weeks, including in Duarte, Sun Valley and Arcadia.

Residents were urged to lock their garbage cans and only put them out on trash pick-up day. Pet food should also be kept indoors.

GRANADA HILLS, Calif. (KTLA) — A bear caused a scare near a country club in Granada Hills on Monday before the animal was eventually tranquilized.

The sighting was reported shortly before 1 p.m. in the 12200 block of Catenia Drive, police said.

The young male bear came out of the hills and headed toward Knollwood Country Club, in the 12200 block of Balboa Boulevard.

The country club was briefly evacuated, authorities said.

A warden from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife caught up with the bear in the trees lining the golf course and shot him with a tranquilizer dart.

Once the animal was unconscious, the warden was able to tag him.

The warden said that the bear appeared to be in good health, and would be released back into the wild.