Lock of bear fur briefly halts auction

ALPINE (CNS) – The on-again, off-again auction of Meatball-related
memorabilia to raise funds to build the celebrity bear his own digs at an
Alpine wildlife sanctuary is on Friday once again — but without a lock of his
fur.

The eBay auction was set up to raise funds for Lions, Tigers and Bears,
which is building a habitat for Meatball, but it was removed Wednesday hours
after bidding began because the sale of a lock of Meatball's fur might have
broken the law.

“The sale of bear parts is illegal in California and DFG is
investigating,” California Department of Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan
told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week.

Officials at the sanctuary have said that $105,000 has been raised
toward a goal of $250,000 for completing Meatball's four-acre habitat and they
hope the auction of the animal's ear tag, a paw print and a lock of his fur
would boost donations.

The auction was back on the site Thursday, but the fur was replaced with
an 8-by-10-inch photo of Meatball, a California black bear who's about five
or six years old, weighs around 500 pounds and is also known as Glen Bearian —
because Glendale became one of the Los Angeles County foothill cities where he
liked to forage.

The current high bid for the items is $760. The auction closes Nov. 18.

When Meatball was captured in August, having been caught and returned to
the Angeles National Forest twice before, wildlife experts concluded he had
grown too reliant on humans.

He earned his moniker when he was spotted raiding a garage freezer for
Costco meatballs. On another occasion, he was seen taking a leisurely dip in a
swimming pool in La Canada-Flintridge.

After his capture, the bear was taken to the Alpine wildlife sanctuary.
While sedated, he had his “210” Fish and Game ear tag removed, was “paw
printed” and had a few locks of his fur clipped for display in the sanctuary's
education center.

He also has been neutered and had an identifying microchip placed under
his skin, according to Lions, Tigers and Bears, which acquired another wayward
bear, dubbed Sugar Bear, from a closed sanctuary in Ohio last month.

According to Lions, Tigers and Bears, the habitat's 12-by-18-foot
“safety bedroom” is nearly complete and Meatball will be moved there as soon
as possible.

Bears that repeatedly return to populated areas are sometimes
euthanized, but Meatball, who became wildly popular though his own Twitter
account, was spared. Initially, he was to be held in Alpine only temporarily,
then moved to a 720-acre sanctuary in Kennesburg, Colo. But Colorado wildlife
officials blocked those plans, citing a state law establishing that “no
wildlife taken from the wild shall be possessed by any wildlife sanctuary.”

Donations can be made through the sanctuary's website,
lionstigersandbears.org, and the auction can be accessed at www.ebay.com.

Categories: KUSI