Meatball auction hits a "bearier" and is yanked
Online auction for San Diego wildlife sanctuary pulled because of fur
An online auction set up to raise funds for a San Diego County wildlife sanctuary caring for a bear that repeatedly raided L.A. County foothill communities was off the E-bay website today, possibly because a lock of fur was among the items up for bid.
Officials at Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine said that $105,000 had been raised toward a goal of $250,000 for completing Meatball's four-acre habitat and that they hoped the auction of the animal's ear tag, a paw print and a lock of fur would boost donations.
But the auction, which opened Wednesday and was to expire on Nov. 16, was removed from E-bay's site just hours after bidding began.
The inclusion of the lock of fur in the auction may be in violation of state law, California Department of Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan told the Los Angeles Times.
"The sale of bear parts is illegal in California and DFG is investigating," he told the newspaper.
The animal, a California brown bear weighing about 500 pounds and known as both Meatball and Glen Bearian -- an allusion to Glendale, which he came to like frequenting -- was captured in August, having been caught and returned to the Angeles National Forest twice before.
At that point, wildlife experts concluded that Meatball had grown too reliant on humans, foraging through garbage in foothill cities.
He earned the nickname Meatball when he was spotted raiding a garage freezer for Costco meatballs. On another occasion, he was spotted taking a dip in a pool in La Canada-Flintridge.
His freewheeling ended with his capture in August, when he was taken to the Alpine wildlife sanctuary.
While sedated, Meatball 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.
The 5- or 6-year-old bear has since 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.
Meatball has been given a clean bill of health, after being tested for parasites and undergoing a dental exam.
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 was spared. Initially, he was to be held at the Alpine sanctuary temporarily, then moved to a 720-acre sanctuary in Kennesburg, Colo.
But Colorado wildlife officials blocked those plans, citing a Colorado statute that says "no wildlife taken from the wild shall be possessed by any wildlife sanctuary."
Donations can still be made through the sanctuary's website, lionstigersandbears.org.
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