"Meatball" the Bear, a frequent visitor to La Canada Flintridge, has been captured and taken to an animal sanctuary in San Diego. The bear is expected to be permanently relocated to a sanctuary in Colorado. NBC4's Alycia Lane reports for Today in LA on Aug. 30, 2012.
"Meatball" the bear, a 400-pound frequent visitor to the neighborhoods of the San Gabriel foothills, has been captured and is likely headed to Colorado for permanent relocation.
There have been more than a dozen possible sightings since March, and Wednesday marked the third time since April the California Department of Fish and Game has trapped the animal.
As far as bear celebrities go, "Meatball" (or "Glen Bearian") is one of the biggest names in Southern California. A Twitter account dedicated to the animal, @TheGlendaleBear, has more than 28,000 followers. During one sighting in April, "Crescenta" was a local trending topic on Twitter.
There are even "Meatball" the bear pins and T-shirts (most sizes nearly sold out).
In the end, it was "Meatball's" love of junk food that led to his downfall. The animal had become quite comfortable around humans and knew a good trash can when he smelled one.
After the animal was spotted early Wednesday in the 5000 block of Ocean View Boulevard in La Canada Flintridge, officials decided to set up a trap, DFG spokesman Andrew Hughan said.
"The game warden baited the trap with bacon and honey, and he thought he needed a little more incentive so he ran down to McDonald's and got a Happy Meal," Hughan said.
The French fries were used to create a trail. The cheeseburger was placed inside the trap.
"Meatball" didn't stand a chance.
By 4 a.m., the animal was in captivity.
"As a wildlife agency our goal is always to keep animals wild but in this case the best interest of the bear was to capture and relocate him to a safe and secure facility," said Hughan.
"Meatball" is now resting comfortably at the Lions, Tigers and Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine, Calif., according to the DFG.
"Please don't feed the bears," warned sanctuary founder and director Bobbi Brink. "Once they get that taste of people-food, they'll keep coming back, and it will cost them their lives in the wild like it's done for 'Meatball.' And a lot of times they're not as lucky as 'Meatball.' They don't get to find sanctuaries so they're put down."
"Meatball's" expected to be relocated to another sanctuary in Colorado.
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