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Ron Kaye: A bear's popularity adds pressure to a very public wrangle

July 15, 2012|By Ron Kaye
(Genaro Molina,…)

It was right at 9 a.m. Sunday when I arrived at the quiet cul-de-sac just above Foothill Boulevard where “Meatball” or “Glen Bearian” or whatever you call a 400-pound black bear who has discovered the joy of suburban garbage was nestled comfortably in the cradle of branches of a tall pine tree. 

“He’s at least 75 to 100 feet up there,” said Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz as his officers explained what was going on to a family leaving their Frederick Avenue for church. "It’s a good thing it was early Sunday. No TV helicopters, no huge crowds, no social media feeding the buzz."

Just a few of us cops and two reporters with our smartphones snapping pictures and videos and two California Department of Fish and Game officers with tranquilizer guns pointed at the 400-pound intruder who was back in town for a feast after a 25-mile trek from the forest where he had been dropped off back on April 10 following his last foray into disturbing the peace and calm. 

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Since then, “R-210” -- as the yellow tag affixed to his ear back then identifies him -- had become something of a folk hero, a wild beast in suburbia who posed a threat to himself and others, grounds to take him into custody for a psychiatric examination if he were human. 

As Meatball peered down from above, he seemed to be calculating what his chances of escape might be and what route offered the best chance to elude the gathering storm of creatures down below. 

A bunch of kids gathered atop a garage roof, neighbors came out and began snapping pictures, a small crowd of passersby gathered down at Foothill, a CBS reporter and two cameramen were all over the story as a couple of search and rescue officers cruising by joined in as the number of officials built up. 

“He could stay up there a day, a week if he wants to,” said Fish and Game Lt. Marty Wall. “It’s a tough situation. We can’t tranquilize until he’s got both feet on the ground and then it can take five minutes or 30 minutes for him to fall.” 

Tough is right. 

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