A California bear has been taken into custody because he keeps straying into populated areas. However, a plan to move him to a wildlife refuge in Colorado has been put on hold because of dispute over a federal law on the transportation of wild animals.
Meatball the bear has been making headlines around the world because of his love of human food, specifically the food for which he is named. He was found in a private swimming pool last week and that was his third capture in as many months in a suburban area instead of the national forest where he is supposed to live. Video of Meatball’s capture is so popular he has over 20,000 followers on Twitter.
Pat Craig of The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) in Colorado has been trying to the get Meatball into a rehabilitation program at the sanctuary. Colorado statutes allow the transfer of bears, however a federal law does not. Craig believes the statute is misinterpreted and TWAS authorities are working to find a resolution.
“Our goal is that we get this cleared up, the rules changed or repealed, and then we get to go out and get Meatball within a few days and get him going on his rehabilitation,” says Craig. “You know winter’s coming up and his life is hanging in the balance. So we’re really excited about getting this done quickly.”
Carol Singleton of the California Department of Fish and Game wrote in an email, “We are working with several wildlife sanctuaries and animal care facilities to find a permanent placement for the bear in California.” Meatball is currently being kept in a cage at the Lions Tigers & Bears animal rescue near San Diego, however, that organization has reported that they do not have the room to keep him permanently.
Bears who traverse into human communities for food, are relocated back to their natural habitat. If they return to the populated area, they become “nuisance bears” and are normally euthanized because they cannot be relocated again since they have lost their fear of humans and grown dependent on human food. However, Meatball has such a famous following online and on TV – he was featured on “The Tonight Show” – that officials are looking to relocate him to a sanctuary rather than face the public scrutiny of putting him down.
Since Black Bears populate large areas of North American, more and more suburban areas are coming into contact with them. For those who live in areas with bears the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife recommends the following tips for keeping bears out of your house and your community:
- Store trash in bear-resistant containers or only put out trash the morning of pick up, not the night before;
- Keep food, even dog food, indoors to prevent bears from smelling it;
- Clean BBQ grills after each use or store them inside;
- Keep garage doors closed even when home;
- For those who have fruit trees, pick any fruit before it ripens and pick up fallen fruit promptly;
- Keep pets and livestock in secure enclosures at night;
- Feed birds only when bears are hibernating or bring bird feeders inside at night or hang them 10 feet off the ground and 10 feet away from anything bears can climb.