An adult black bear was captured Wednesday afternoon in Goleta, but not before spending several hours wandering through neighborhoods.
The bear, a male estimated to weigh 250 to 300 pounds, was first reported about 8 a.m. behind some homes on the 7800 block of Rio Vista Drive in the Winchester Canyon area, according to Jamie Dostal, a warden with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“He was using the culvert to go back and forth underneath the highway and the railroad tracks,” Dostal said. “We got in a spot to get close with a tranquilizer gun and dart him. He went back and forth a few more times, and we darted him again and immobilized him.”
The bear was taken into the Santa Ynez Mountains for release into Los Padres National Forest, Dostal said.
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During its adventure, the bear climbed a few fences, walked through backyards and even looked into the windows of a few homes on Rio Vista, between Cathedral Oaks and Winchester Canyon.
It also caused a stir for residents on Rio Vista Drive, including Goleta City Councilwoman Paula Perotte.
“When I woke up this morning, my dog was barking and going crazy,” Perotte said in an email to Noozhawk. “I look out my bedroom window, and I see a black bear. ... I’ve lived in this canyon for over 30 years, and that’s a first.”
Her next-door neighbor, John Ugoretz, was helping his 12-year-old daughter, Sadie, get ready for school when the bruin showed up.
“I was doing my daughter’s hair, getting her ready to go to school, when she said, ‘There’s a bear in the backyard,’ ” Ugoretz told Noozhawk. “I said, ‘Of course, you did,’ but then went and looked out the window and saw it standing our our spa.
“It was quite a show for the family.”
Michael Romp, who lives on Langlo Ranch Road, said he was heading out on his morning run when he saw the bear cross Winchester Canyon Road in front of him from a field to the south. He said the animal appeared calm as it headed toward the backyards of his neighbors’ homes.
While the bear was loose, the Sheriff’s Department used the 911 system to alert some 3,000 residents in Western Goleta that deputies and wildlife officials were trying to capture a bear in the area, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.
Schools in the area, including Brandon and Ellwood elementary schools, were alerted, and reportedly kept their students in at recess.