UPDATE: Bear in tree, darted and placed in truck

Bear bound and placed in pickup truck. Courtesy photo, Carlos Vasquez.

A bear found lounging in an olive tree in the yard of a Valencia home Friday morning was safely darted, harnessed, placed in a truck by firefighters, tagged by state officers and released back into the wild.

“He filled up the whole back of the pickup,” said resident Jan Lynch. “He was a big boy.”

Firefighters with the Los Angeles County Fire Department used a ladder to position under the bear and, once in position Fish and Wildlife officers used tranquilizing darts to sedate the animal.

“They kept moving the ladder so that when he was tranquilized he would land on it,” Lynch said.

At that point, the bear was on the ladder, accessible for firefighters.

The bear – if it’s the same animal – has been making its way through town and was seen up a tree in a Valencia neighborhood Friday morning.

Bear watchers

Residents on Mill Valley Road and Avenida Frasca stood in the rain from a distance admiring the wild animal in the tree.

The Homeowners of the house visited by the bear moved in just three months ago, said the homeowner who did not want his name used.

“We were worried because we have a two-year-old child,” he said, noting his wife sent him a video surveillance image of the bear once he got to work.

The Ring doorstep surveillance captured the bear casually loping across the family’s property.

At 7 a.m., sheriff’s officials received a call from one resident who saw the bear near their home.

“We’ve been out here for a couple of hours,” Lynch said. “(The bear) is just hanging out in the olive tree.

It took two tranquilizing darts to subdue the animal, which was described by Lt. JC Healy, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as a “teenage” male bear.

“The first dart didn’t seem to have an effect,” Healy said Friday.  “The second dart hit him in his hind quarters and the bear went down right on the ladder.

Once the bear was subdued, the animal was bound and put into the back of the truck.

From there, Fish and Wildlife officers, took the bear to the place they believe the bear calls home, at an unspecified spot in the Santa Susana Mountains, between the SCV and Simi Valley, Healy said.

“We returned him to his natural habitat,” he said.

Ear tagged

Before releasing the bear, the state officers “ear tagged” the animal with a GPS locator.

“That way we’ll know if he pops up again,” Healy said.

Asked how a bear could end up in the middle of a residential neighborhood, a block east of Meadows Elementary School, Healy said bears are on the move.

“Most likely he came down a flood control channel, but they cross main streets.  He could have walked across The Old Road and even cross the freeway,” he said.

“They’re looking for food and they’re looking for water, after having woken up from the winter,” Healy said.

The bear sighting Friday is about two miles from where a bear was spotted Tuesday night, around 11:30 p.m. on the 26000 block of Laguna Court in Valencia.

“It may not be the same bear,” Healy said, noting witnesses have described the bear seen earlier in the week as bigger.

On Tuesday night, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station watch commander “decided to send units into the area to ascertain the validity of the posts,” said Deputy Christopher Tomlinson of the SCV Sheriff’s Station.

But on Wednesday afternoon, the bear’s whereabouts were unknown, as well as on Thursday, according to sheriff’s officials.

“The goal is to protect them and help them make their way back to the wild,” said Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station.

No fear of humans

At what point are bears considered a threat? That was the question put to Fish and Wildlife officials two years ago when bears were frequently visiting one particular neighborhood in Stevenson Ranch.

If the behavior of the bear “escalates” from rummaging through garbage to breaking into a house, the animals will be killed, Wildlife spokeswoman Kirsten Macintyre said in 2017.

The decision to shoot an intruding bear comes down to whether or not it’s considered “habituated” and that they’ve lost their natural fear of humans, she said.

“A non-habituated bear that wanders into a campground or a neighborhood and rummages through a garbage can will be scared off when humans show up, make noise, chase it off, etc.,” Macintyre said in 2017.

“But a habituated bear has done it so many times that it will keep coming back anyway, and get bolder and bolder each time,” she said.

“When the behavior escalates from rummaging through a garbage can in the middle of the night, to breaking into a house in broad daylight, the bear isn’t afraid of humans anymore.

“That’s considered a ‘public safety bear’ that could potentially be very dangerous,” Macintyre said. “They can’t be relocated at that point, so they have to be killed.”

Signal staff writer Lorena Mejia contributed to this report.

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