Bear is the victim of a petty ruling

In the ongoing saga of “Meatball” — the Glendale bear made famous by its eating preferences and determination to return to the area twice after having been drugged and relocated deep inside the forest — the final chapter appeared to be closing until bureaucracy insisted on dragging the story out.

Had this been any other bear, it likely would have been put down, but state fish and game officials decided to make an exception due in large part to his popularity, spurred by his Twitter persona “Glen Bearian” and the public fascination and adoration that followed. But what had seemed like a happy ending — his relocation to a “ClubMed” type animal sanctuary in Colorado — appears dashed after Colorado officials nixed the idea, citing regulations that prohibit the sheltering of wild animals in Rocky Mountain state.

So now, California Fish and Game officials are left holding a 400-pound bag with nowhere to put it.

It seems an unnecessarily silly time to stick to a rule book when you have a sanctuary that actually wants the bear, but as Colorado Parks & Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton put it, the rules don’t “have an exception for how many Twitter followers you may have.”

By Hampton’s own admission, it’s a callous stance. But it’s also petty. If ever there was a time to make an exception, to get the final chapter of this awkward, potentially disastrous PR situation written, now seems like the time. Perhaps the Colorado Legislature, governor or some other bureaucrat can step in, sign a waiver, soak up the positive press (cue photo op with politician welcoming the bear with an order of meatballs, anyone?) and be done with it.

Whatever the decision, hopefully it comes fast. Because restraining a once free and roaming Meatball in a holding cage for much longer is perhaps a worse fate than what would have happened naturally.

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