A 3-year-old male bear, seen this weekend frolicking through La Cañada yards and dining from trash cans, caused a social media buzz before a game warden spotted it near Foothill Boulevard Sunday morning and was forced to tranquilize it.
The 225-pound bruin was relocated to the Angeles National Forest, but by Tuesday more sightings were reported in and around the Ross Dress for Less parking lot and surrounding residential area, sheriff's officials reported.
"Residents said they see this pretty much every year at this time because they're coming out of hibernation," said Sgt. Dirk Blansfield of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station, who tracked the creature on Sunday to a Palm Drive home, where the bear ate tree fruit and swam in a pool before heading to an outdoor fridge.
"He opened it and ate all the fish out of the freezer," Blansfield said Tuesday. "He was eating calamari and looked up at me like a kid who'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar."
Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said deputies contacted game warden Adam Smith and provided updates on the animal's whereabouts. By the time it was discovered on Palm Drive, it was just yards from heavy traffic and two major freeways, the spokesman reported.
"That becomes a danger, not only to the bear but to others, so the warden got out his dart gun and was able to immobilize it safely," Hughan said, adding the animal was relocated to a safe spot inside the Angeles National Forest.
The light-colored bear had a red tag on its left ear, a tell-tale sign it had been captured and relocated at least three years earlier, the last time red tags were used. Hughan expressed hope this time the bear would stay put in the wild.
Historically, the migration of bears southward from the forest into communities north of the Foothill (210) Freeway tended to remain within definable seasons, usually around springtime, Hughan said. In recent years, however, bear sightings have become a year-round occurrence with increased sightings during warm weather.
"If it pops up real hot, there will be lots of bears over the next two weeks," he added, warning residents to be diligent by putting their trash cans out the day of pickup and not the night before.
"Do not help wildlife is the key takeaway," Hughan said.
Information from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on how to bear-proof one's home can be found online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Keep-Me-Wild/Bear.