Placer County deputies came to the rescue of an old friend early Monday after he got himself in a jam after a long night out on the town.
Two deputies were patrolling in Kings Beach when they received a call at about 3 a.m. from a concerned citizen who reported a ruckus in the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex, Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Hunt said.
The deputies made their way to the scene, propping an iPhone on the windshield of their patrol vehicle before offering assistance.
A huge bear had gotten stuck inside a dumpster after scavenging for scraps. Neighbors said they had heard the animal wailing.
Video posted on the Placer County Sheriff’s Office Facebook shows the dumpster sitting quietly in the pre-dawn hours before suddenly rattling with movement as its prisoner popped his head over the edge.
“That is T-shirt,” said Deputy Joe Bertoni after catching a glimpse of the massive bear inside. “It’s OK.”
“That is T-shirt, yeah,” the deputy confirmed. “He has a big white front on him.”
Hunt said T-shirt — who is almost as big as the dumpster — slid into a square opening on top of the trash bin’s main lid, which was locked.
The deputies spent the next several minutes helping the local bear, who has had run-ins with the law before and was affectionately named T-shirt for the white patch of fur on his chest, which makes it look like he is wearing a T-shirt.
The video shows one deputy carefully walking toward the dumpster and flashing a light before T-shirt suddenly pops his head out of the lid.
“Whoa!” one of the deputies can be heard saying, as his colleague jumps back, startled by T-shirt’s sudden move.
When T-shirt retreated back into the dumpster, the deputies moved into action, using what appeared to be tree branches to unlock the lid from a safe distance.
“Dude, I am so going to run,” said Deputy Dan Staley as the two lawmen tried distracting the bear while they worked to open the latch.
Once the lid was unlocked, they quickly lifted the half that was imprisoning the bear.
“There we go,” one of the deputies says as T-shirt tumbles out. “There he goes. Come on, atta-boy. Good boooy!”
The deputies honked a loud horn, and then T-shirt was on his way.
Deputies seemed to be at ease with T-shirt, talking to him affectionately, but Hunt cautioned that the bear is far from harmless. Although it was edited out of the nearly two-minute video, the bear actually took a couple of swipes at the deputies, he said.
“A little too close for my taste,” Hunt said. “He’s not a friendly bear by any means. I think he was just tired.”
Hunt said it looks like T-shirt has gained weight, which is understandable given that hibernation season is just around the corner. Bears in the area are very active at this time of year, scavenging in trash bins throughout town. T-shirt has even found himself in a similar pickle before, Hunt said.
“They’re fattening up,” Hunt said. “How he got in is beyond me. If he was a little bit skinnier, he could have gotten out. He’s a pretty big, good boy.”