LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE (CBSLA.com) — Officials say that a bear they captured in La Canada Flintridge a few weeks ago is no longer going to be transferred to a wildlife sanctuary in Colorado.
Over the past few months, Department of Fish and Game officials were called on three different occasions to Glendale and La Canada Flintridge because “Meatball” was breaking into homes, swimming in pools and digging in garbage cans. The bear earned his nickname after he was found eating meatballs.
Each time he wandered into Foothill communities, officials had to sedate the 400-pound black bear and return him to the Angeles National Forest.
It was his third strike – a visit to La Canada Flintridge on Aug. 29 – that prompted Fish and Game to move the 5-year-old bear for good. They used bacon and honey to lure Meatball, aka “Glen Bearian,” into a trap and transported him to Lions Tigers & Bears, an animal rescue in Alpine, in San Diego County.
Officials planned on moving Meatball on to a 720-acre sanctuary in Colorado, but a statute in the Rocky Mountain state prohibits animals from the wild from being placed in a sanctuary.
“It is unlawful in Colorado for the owner of a wildlife sanctuary to possess a bear taken from the wild. Out of respect for Colorado law, we do not intend to allow the bear to be transported there,” the California Department of Fish and Game announced Tuesday.
“As the state agency responsible for managing California’s wildlife, the department is actively searching for a permanent home for this bear. This may take some time,” the DFG said.
In the meantime, Meatball is being held at Lions Tigers & Bears. Director Bobbi Brink said the bear will need to adjust to being in captivity.
“As a wild animal, he doesn’t understand how to live in an enclosure, or that it’s OK to eat food provided by people,” Brink said. “All of his instincts are telling him to run for the hills, and that he can’t trust the people around him.”
Meatball also needs veterinary and dental checkups, a microchip and will have to be neutered, Brink said.
The 93-acre facility is at maximum capacity and Brink said they need help building the bear a den and an outdoor area to roam.
San Diego Gas & Electric has already offered to donate 26-foot wooden poles needed for the project, and other organizations and individuals have also offered to help with construction.
The sanctuary asked anyone wishing to donate to the cause to contact Lions Tigers & Bears at (619) 659-8078.