Bear in Tree Draws Crowd, Leads Officers on Pursuit

California Fish and Wildlife agents responded to the location near a church and school Tuesday morning, then followed the bear to a nearby golf course

It took two darts and nearly 12 hours to capture a bear roaming through several backyards and a golf course in a San Fernando Valley neighborhood Tuesday.

The elusive black bear, which appears to have a tracking tag above its left ear, was first reported at about 7 a.m. PT in a tree near the intersection of Rinaldi Street and Hayvenhurst Avenue in the foothill community of Granada Hills (map).

After disappearing for much of the afternoon, the bear was spotted again about 5 p.m. and within a half hour was successfully tranquilized. The bruin fell asleep under a bush and against a fence at the bottom of a steep hill. Several officers wrangled the bear and placed him in the bed of a pickup truck, ready to be transported back to the forest.

A crowd of bear watchers gathered Tuesday morning to get a peek at the wild animal in a Granada Hills tree before it climbed down and headed toward a golf course, leading officers and California Department of Fish and Wildlife agents on morning pursuit.

Aerial video showed several officers and residents under the tree as California Department of Fish and Wildlife agents responded to the location, near the Jewish Educational Trade School and St. Andrew and St. Charles Church.

The bear appeared to be resting in the nook of two large branches before it climbed down and scampered out of the area. It was not immediately clear whether the bear was hit by tranquilizer darts, but it showed no signs of slowing down more than 90 minutes after the initial report.

The bear was last seen near Knollwood Golf Course, north of the original sighting. The bear was captured by NewsChopper4's camera as it ran -- patrol vehicles close behind -- on a sidewalk in front of homes on the west side of the golf course. As officers approached, the bear tumbled through bushes and trees, jumped over a wall and across a street onto another property.


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The bruin reappeared near the golf course about 5 p.m. then ran into a backyard, where it hid in some bushes before making a quick escape and narrowly avoided dart-wielding officers. The search continued as the sun began to set,

The tag above the bear's ear indicates this is not the first time the bear has ventured into an urban area or encountered humans. The tags are attached to bears when they are tranquilized and relocated by Fish and Wildlife.

The location is just north of the 118 Freeway, about 20 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

The sighting comes after last week's visit from a bear that snacked on the contents of a trash bin in Monrovia and another bear wandering the hills above Pasadena.

California's black bear population is at about 25,000 to 30,000, with most living in mountain areas above 3,000 feet, according to what the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife calls conservative estimates.  In 1982, the statewide bear population was estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000.

Less than 10 percent of the state's black bear population lives in the central western and southwestern California region, according to agency estimates. About half of the population resides in an area north and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has recorded 12 "bear attacks" since 1980. An attack is defined as "physical contact, injury or death."

The last reported attack in Los Angeles County occurred in July 2003 when a hiker was knocked down by a bear at a campsite on Pacific Crest Trail in Angeles National Forest. The hiker received minor injuries.

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