Police was forced to shoot the two-year-old California black bear, which tumbled more than 15ft into the front garden of a house outside Los Angeles. But the fall was softened by a tarpaulin that caught the bewildered 100-pound bear called ‘Yogi’ by onlookers – and it was bundled back into the wild before the effects of the knockout drug wore off.
The three-hour drama began in Porter Ranch, California, when Barabara Erickson, 71, spotted muddy paws on her patio carpet before seeing a bear staring at her from the pine tree outside her front window.
Within minutes, there were about 40 Los Angele firefighters, police and wildlife experts and officials from the Californian Department of Fish and Game trying to find the bear stranded up the tree.
“I told the first guy, ‘Don’t you dare kill him’,” said Mrs Erickson. “Everyone’s in the bear’s corner. It’s sad to think what’s going through the animal’s mind right now. It’s become a circus animal,” said neighbour Mark Shapiro.
After eventually coming up with a plan to fire a tranquiliser dart, two officers from the Fish and Game Department stood by with shotguns in case the bear tried to bolt and a half-dozen firemen held a big yellow tarp directly under the tree.
After being hit by the dart, the startled bear scampered a few feet higher. Ten minutes later, the groggy creature finally slipped from his perch and fell, limbs splayed, to a soft landing below.
The sedated bear, his urban adventure over, was returned to the wild in the surrounding mountains and released about 30 minutes later on Wednesday lunchtime.
“I saw Kevin Federline (Britney Spears’ former husband) at Ralphs (store) yesterday. This was more exciting,” Raquel Cruz, a resident, told the Los Angeles Daily News.
Experts say the bear population in California has grown from 10,000 in 1980 to 38,000. So it is not unusual to see an animal like this wander into populated areas. “Just last night we turned back a bear on the 210 freeway by La Verne,” said Harry Morse, spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Game, which assisted in the rescue of the brownish-colored black bear.
Porter Ranch is relatively far from the mountains compared to foothill cities such as Monrovia, which received more than 400 calls of bear sightings in just one year.
“It’s always unusual to see a bear that wandered that far into a major suburban area,” said Morse. “This time of the year is when mothers kick [the young cubs] off. They are usually about 1 1/2 years old. This bear is probably looking for a place to live,” he continued. “It doesn’t have all the skills for gathering food. He may have found a way to get into garbage.”
That’s why it is crucial that people don’t feed bears or leave food or water out so they get used to being fed. “If the bears start coming back and become a nuisance to a family or individual, suddenly they become a public safety problem and then they could lose their lives,” Morse added. [via Daily Mail (UK), Telegraph (UK) and LA Times]