Popular neighborhood bear caught again

Jul 16 2012 - 9:29am

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The 400-pound black bear dubbed "Meatball" and known to some by the Twitter persona "Glen Bearian" was first spotted in April and returned to the Glendale, California, area again in late June after being tranquilized and taken deep into the Angeles National Forest. The bear has been known to snack on meatballs, baklava and other trashed food items, and is thought to have once taken a dip in a backyard pool. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
California Department of Fish and Game wardens check on a tranquilized bear on Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Glendale, California. The team moved the bear to a safe area of the Angeles National Forest. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
California Department of Fish and Game warden Ilia Banks looks over a sedated bear in Glendale, California on Sunday, July 15, 2012. The DFG team moved the bear to a safe area of the Angeles National Forest. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
California Department of Fish and Game wardens Don Nelson, from left, Ilia Banks and Lt. Martin Wall transfer a tranquilized bear into a cylinder-like trap on Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Glendale, California. The team moved the bear to a safe area of the Angeles National Forest. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
The 400-pound black bear dubbed "Meatball" and known to some by the Twitter persona "Glen Bearian" was first spotted in April and returned to the Glendale, California, area again in late June after being tranquilized and taken deep into the Angeles National Forest. The bear has been known to snack on meatballs, baklava and other trashed food items, and is thought to have once taken a dip in a backyard pool. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
The 400-pound black bear dubbed "Meatball" and known to some by the Twitter persona "Glen Bearian" was first spotted in April and returned to the Glendale, California, area again in late June after being tranquilized and taken deep into the Angeles National Forest. The bear has been known to snack on meatballs, baklava and other trashed food items, and is thought to have once taken a dip in a backyard pool. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
California Department of Fish and Game wardens check on a tranquilized bear on Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Glendale, California. The team moved the bear to a safe area of the Angeles National Forest. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
California Department of Fish and Game warden Ilia Banks looks over a sedated bear in Glendale, California on Sunday, July 15, 2012. The DFG team moved the bear to a safe area of the Angeles National Forest. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
California Department of Fish and Game wardens Don Nelson, from left, Ilia Banks and Lt. Martin Wall transfer a tranquilized bear into a cylinder-like trap on Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Glendale, California. The team moved the bear to a safe area of the Angeles National Forest. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
The 400-pound black bear dubbed "Meatball" and known to some by the Twitter persona "Glen Bearian" was first spotted in April and returned to the Glendale, California, area again in late June after being tranquilized and taken deep into the Angeles National Forest. The bear has been known to snack on meatballs, baklava and other trashed food items, and is thought to have once taken a dip in a backyard pool. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

GLENDALE, Calif. - Miles deep in the Angeles National Forest, Glendale's favorite bear might be wondering whether he can make it back in time for trash day.

After snoozing nearly five hours in a Glendale tree, the bear known to his social media fans as "Glen Bearian" and "Meatball" was tranquilized Sunday and driven back into the wild.

This is the second time in four months that California Department of Fish and Game wardens have shipped the wayward bear back to the forest. Policy dictates that bears cannot be moved more than about 30 miles for a "return to habitat."

"Based on his history, I think it's probably 50-50 that he comes back," Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan said. "I'm going to put it on my big white board: July 15."

The 400-pound male bear was spotted snoozing in a tree in the 4500 block of Frederick Avenue around 7 a.m. Sunday, officials said. Glendale police blocked off the street to vehicle traffic as Fish and Game wardens kept an eye on the bear.

"We stumbled out about 9 a.m. and it was up in the tree," said Brock Hendricks, 20, who lives across the street. "There's just two officers with rifles outside my front yard. You know, the normal Sunday morning."

About 11 a.m., Fish and Game wardens fired several bean bag rounds at the bear, rousing him. As Glen Bearian shimmied down the tree trunk, wardens shot him with a tranquilizer dart. The bear managed to scamper two blocks before he was shot with a second dart.

He eventually fell asleep on a lawn near Clark Magnet High School.

Wardens loaded him into the back of a pickup truck. Then they drove him back to Frederick Avenue and put him into a cylindrical trap for his trip to the forest.

Given the bear's online popularity, authorities expressed relief that the operation could proceed without much of a crowd.

"This couldn't have happened on a better day," police spokesman Tom Lorenz said. "Because social media did not go live on this, it didn't go viral and we didn't have people show up."

The bear, who has a penchant for meatballs, fruit trees and swimming pools, captured the hearts of some locals as he made a habit of foraging for food in the foothill communities in recent months. His popularity only increased when Glendale resident Sarah Aujero, 29, created the Twitter handle TheGlendaleBear so that residents would not see the bear as a threat.

"After all these tranquilizer shots, they may need to drop me off at Celebrity Rehab ...," Aujero tweeted Sunday after the bear was caught.

As the bear was moved from the pickup truck into the trap, the Hendricks family snapped several photos of him. Glen Bearian lay under a tarp and breathed heavily with his tongue hanging out.

"Woo, you stink!" said Danna Hendricks, 46, then turned serious. "We're so sorry, buddy."

Minutes later, he was on his way.

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)2012 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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