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Bear rescued from Porter Ranch pine tree likely scavenging for food, experts say

May 26, 2010 |  1:52 pm

Bear The bear rescued Wednesday from a pine tree in Porter Ranch was a young North American black bear that had probably just been separated from its mother and was scavenging for food, officials said.

The roughly 100-pound animal was taken to safety after rescuers shot him with a tranquilizer and watched him fall from the tree into a safety cushion below.

Experts say the bear population in California has grown from 10,000 in 1980 to 38,000. So it is not unusual to see an animal like this wander into populated areas.

“Just last night we turned back a bear on the 210 freeway by La Verne,” said Harry Morse, spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Game, which assisted in the rescue of the brownish-colored black bear.

Porter Ranch is relatively far from the mountains compared to foothill cities such as Monrovia, which received more than 400 calls of bear sightings in just one year.

“It’s always unusual to see a bear that wandered that far into a major suburban area,” said Morse. “This time of the year is when mothers kick [the young cubs] off. They are usually about 1 1/2 years old.

"This bear is probably looking for a place to live," he continued. "It doesn’t have all the skills for gathering food. He may have found a way to get into garbage.”

That’s why it is crucial that people don’t feed bears or leave food or water out so they get used to being fed.

“If the bears start coming back and become a nuisance to a family or individual, suddenly they become a public safety problem and then they could lose their lives,” Morse said.

-- Ching-Ching Ni

Photo: The bear falls onto a mattress after being tranquilized. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times