Pool Day for Bear in San Dimas

Bear on the lam hides from authorities

An agile bear jumped a fence, walked atop walls and wandered into the backyard of a home Wednesday in San Dimas.

The bear was spotted at 1:35 p.m. in the 2400 block of Terrebonne Avenue, sheriff's Sgt. Richard Ramirez said. It jumped over a chain-link fence and walked on top of a stone wall like a gymnast on a balance beam.

Once in the backyard of a home, the bear dipped its front paws into the pool, but disappeared behind the residence to search for food. After rummaging through two garbage cans, the bear returned to the pool for a brief swim.

"Heat is always a factor in Southern California. These animals usually are in the coolest areas they can find," said Harry Morse of the California Department of Fish and Game. "During the day, they want to get out of the sun. Just like it was a lake, the bear would naturally take a quick swim."

At about 2:10 p.m., a large-breed dog in the backyard of another residence flushed the bear out of a wooded area. The bear took sanctuary in a tree.

Photojournalist Alex Vasquez was in a back yard near the bear.

"They believe the bear has climbed up a pine tree," Vasquez said. "Sheriff's deputies are keeping their distance. The sheriff's department is basically trying to use the air horns on their vehicles to scare it back up into the hills. This particular bear, I believe I've encountered before. About a year ago I got some video -- they believe it's the same bear and, possibly, might be tagged."

The animal went up into a tree for more an hour, and only came down after deputies shot him with non-lethal rubber pellets. Then the bear leisurely made his way, easily jumping over tall fences separating back yards.

Finally, about 5 p.m., the helicopters spotted the bear and were able to follow him. Only when he got spooked --- apparently by the hovering copters -- did he start moving quickly.

For at least a while, it appeared he was heading back into the forest, but then he wandered back onto Terrebonne Avenue.

"Most of the time they come down, snoop into a couple of trash cans, and go back into the hills," Ramirez said. "We're hoping that's what happens this time."

Bears, raccoons and coyotes often visit their human neighbors at the base of the Angeles National Forest.

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