ALPINE, Calif. - Efforts were under way Monday to raise funds to create a permanent home in Alpine for a 400-pound black bear captured in Los Angeles County after ambling out of the Angeles National Forest several times to forage in suburbia.
Affectionately known as Meatball because he likes to eat them, the bear was found taking a swim in the pool of a La Canada Flintridge home on Aug. 29.
It was at the third time in recent months that Meatball had visited suburbia. So the Department of Fish and Game trapped Meatball using bacon and honey. He was then quickly moved him to Alpine's Lions, Tigers and Bears rehabilitation and animal sanctuary.
Authorities initially said the move to Alpine was temporary and that within days, Meatball would join more than 80 other bears currently roaming free on the 720-acre Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo.
But last week, a debate between a Colorado statute that allows the move and a state regulation that does not put the transfer plans on hold.
On Friday, the Colorado Wildlife Commission failed to reach a decision on the matter, leaving Meatball's fate in limbo.
The prohibitive regulation states, "No wildlife taken from the wild shall be possessed by any wildlife sanctuary." Pat Craig, executive director of the Colorado sanctuary, has said the new law is being misinterpreted and lawyers are trying to sort it out so an exception can be made for Meatball.
If that does not happen, the much-smaller 93-acre Alpine sanctuary plans to build an individual bear habitat for Meatball. According to Lions, Tigers and Bears' website, the undertaking will cost tens of thousands of dollars, including the cost of a pool.
SDG&E has already offered to donate 26-foot wooden poles needed for the project, and other organizations and individuals have also offered to help with construction. The sanctuary asked anyone wishing to donate to the cause to contact Lions, Tigers and Bears at (619) 659-8078.