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Mysterious bear puzzles officials

SHANNON DARLING, Sun News Service

ALPINE MEADOWS – Only one question remains after an overly friendly black bear was found near Alpine Meadows Road: How did the bear get so friendly?

“I knew there was something strange about this bear,” said Ann Bryant, president of the BEAR League. “We couldn’t figure out why he kept coming back and sitting on the road.”

The 162-pound, 3-year-old black bear was spotted by the bridge near River Ranch several times during the course of Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, but would not respond to bear aversion.

“He would go about 100 yards away and just sit under a tree,” said Bryant who added Pepper Spray and pyrotechnics were used to frighten the bear to no avail.

This behavior first alarmed officials because the bear seemed injured and would have to be killed.

“We thought it had been shot and we would have to euthanize it,” said Deputy Allen Carter with the Placer County Sheriff’s Department.

To further inspect the bear, Bryant along with others approached it sitting under the tree.

“He took my hand in his mouth and held it gently,” said Bryant. “He let me touch him.”

Fish and Game officials say this is extremely unlikely behavior from a wild bear and do not recommend anyone put their hand in an animal’s mouth.

But as others gathered around the bear it was apparent the animal was cold.

“When I felt his fur he had no undercoat,” said Bryant. “He was dying of hypothermia.”

The bear was then loaded up in a crate by Bryant and others for transport to the California Department of Fish and Game’s Rancho Cordova wildlife investigation lab.

“We all walked up to it,” said Carter, who added the bear did not show any fear.

Lured into the steel crate with a piece of deli meat, the bear only needed a small push from behind to enter the crate, said Carter.

Now warm and in better health, the bear seems to be puzzling officials at the Fish and Game.

“My observation on this bear is that its a mystery,” said John Carlson, California Department of Fish and Game wildlife investigation lab supervisor.

After studies the bear seemed to be in extremely good condition as if it just woke up from hibernation, as well the bear does not have worms. Most wild animals have worms from eating in the wild, said Carlson.

“Normal bears would have worm casings.”

Although officials speculate the bear may have been dropped off after being raised by humans, they do say that can’t be proven unless someone saw the bear being dropped off.

“This bear is not acting wild,” said Carlson.

The bear will remain at the Rancho Cordova wildlife investigation lab for the next week or so. The bear will most likely be placed in an approved zoo or education facility, said Carlson.

But one thing is for certain: this bear was definitely used to people.

“He loved it when we put the blankets on him. He even grabbed one with his mouth and pulled it over his head,” said Bryant.

Officials with the California Department on Fish and Game are asking that if anyone saw anything suspicious in relation to the bear to call the anonymous tip line at (888) DFG-CALTIP.

“We really need to figure this out,” said Bryant.


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