Bear Takes a Break in Backyard Tree After Night of Running, Climbing and Swimming in La Verne

After several overnight sightings, the bear climbed a tree early Thursday at a La Verne home

A bear was tranquilized Thursday after an overnight swim in a school pool and a romp around a Southern California neighborhood that ended in a tree behind a home.

After coming down from the tree, the drowsy bear appeared to have a tranquilizer dart in a back leg. It stumbled around in a driveway before dropping onto its side.

Fish and wildlife agent loaded the bear into a pickup and returned it to the wilderness.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department San Dimas station responded to a reported bear sighting at about 11:30 p.m. At the scene, the animal was spending time at the Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church for the first hour of its outing, before it moved onto the east side of the town.

"Apparently, the bear had nowhere to be, as deputies watched it peacefully wander the streets for approximately 90 minutes," the sheriff's department statement said. "Bored with his audience, the bear meandered safely out of the neighborhood and into La Verne PD's area, where officers there took over bear-sitting duties."

La Verne police spotted the bear walking along the grounds of Damien High School, where it explored the football field and enjoyed the pool. It was last seen on the school's campus before disappearing into the night.

Early Thursday, a bear -- likely the same one -- was spotted behind a home in La Verne. Fish and Wildlife agents responded to the location in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles.

The bear left the tree around 10 a.m.

Later Thursday afternoon, the nieghborhood of La Canada Flintridge was also visited by a black bear who was hanging out in a backyard tree on Daleridge Street. This bear was eventually taken into custody and relocated as well. 

Black bears, recognized by their small, narrow heads and small ears, have coats that range in color from tan or brown to black. Females grow up to about 200 pounds and males can be a hefty 350 pounds with some giants weighing in at more than 600 pounds. 

California's black bear population has been on the rise over the last two decades, growing from an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 in the early 1980s to between 25,000 and 30,000 -- and that's a conservative estimate, according to the state department of fish and wildlife. They're good climbers who can easily scale a tree if they can't outrun a predator or just need some alone time.

The state has two subspecies of black bear -- the California black bear and the northwestern black bear. About half of the state's bear population can be found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and areas to the north and west. Only an estimated 10 percent of the black bear population inhabits central western and southwestern California.

Black bears like to feed on plants, insects, nuts, berries and whatever else they think of as edible -- such as the contents of trash bins. If food is scarce in their natural habitat, bears are likely to forage elsewhere, bringing them into Southern California foothill neighborhoods.

Although its on the state flag, the fearsome grizzly bear no longer can be found in the California wild. The last grizzly bear observed in California was shot in the early 1920s.

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