Bear evades capture during ramble through SLO

Ursine visitor causing furry furor likely came down Cuesta Grade

acornejo@thetribunenews.comSeptember 19, 2013 

A 200-pound black bear created a stir in San Luis Obispo late Thursday and all day Friday — evading authorities who spent more than eight hours chasing it. They last saw it fleeing down Stenner Creek after being hit by a tranquilizer dart.

The bear, estimated to be 3 years old or younger, probably made its way down Cuesta Grade, following the creek down the hill, according to Bob Stafford, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“It was likely attracted by the food and water in the creek, which isn’t available in the high country this time of year,” he said.

Authorities cautioned residents about the bear. However, it did not display any threatening or aggressive behavior.

Stafford and several law enforcement officials from the San Luis Obispo Police Department and Cal Poly spent the majority of the day Friday trying to capture the pesky bear.

Authorities were able to hit it with a tranquilizer dart Friday, but it fled down Stenner Creek and disappeared.

Stafford said he searched Stenner Creek for several hours after the bear was tranquilized to make sure it didn’t pass out in the water.

“Either it left the area or fell asleep and rolled under the brush,” he said.

The bear was first spotted around 7 p.m. Thursday on the 300 block of Broad Street.

Officers determined the bear was not acting in a threatening manner and used a beanbag launcher to scare it out of the neighborhood and into the nearby woods.

The bear reappeared at 7:15 a.m. at Santa Rosa Park. Officers chased it back into the creek area below the park. Officers kept tabs on the bear while waiting for a warden from the Department of Fish and Wildlife to arrive and help relocate it.

The bear evaded officers by running up Stenner Creek, only to be spotted around 10:45 a.m. near the Mustang Village apartments on Foothill Boulevard by the Cal Poly campus.
Stafford said overflowing dumpsters might have attracted the bear there.

Once again, police officers used a beanbag launcher to steer the bear away from large crowds that gathered to take photographs.

Officers were then able to hit the bear with a tranquilizer dart before it disappeared.

“After an extensive ground and air search of the area, it was determined the bear was no longer in the area,” Sgt. Chad Pfarr said in a news release.

Stafford said the bear, which appeared scared of the crowds and the noise of the helicopter hovering overhead, will likely make its way back to the wilderness.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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