Bear euthanized in La Canada Flintridge

A bear struck by a car in La Canada Flintridge early on Aug. 26 was so severely injured that California Department of Fish and Game authorities euthanized it later that day. (KTLA-TV) (August 27, 2012)

A young bear struck by a car in La Cañada Flintridge Sunday was so severely injured that state fish and game officials were forced to euthanize the ursine because they determined it would not have been able to survive in the wild.

The bear was hit by a car at about 7 a.m. Sunday at Foothill Boulevard and Vineta Avenue, in front of McDonald’s, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The bear then climbed a fence and headed into the bushes before authorities arrived, but was spotted around 1 p.m. a few blocks away, behind a Starbucks at a shopping mall on Foothill and Gould Avenue, near the Foothill (210) Freeway.

Law enforcement officials, California Department of Fish and Game authorities and volunteers with Montrose Search and Rescue established a perimeter around the bear, which was in the foliage between the coffee shop and the 210 Freeway. The bear was a male, between 150 and 200 pounds, and about 2 years old, according to Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan.

The bear had enough strength after the accident to go about 150 yards from where it was struck, but it wouldn’t have been able to obtain enough food to survive in the wild, Hughan said. At 4 p.m., Fish and Game authorities tranquilized the bear and determined the injuries were life-threatening.

“Its hips were severely damaged, legs broken, it had internal bleeding,” Hughan said. “There’s no reasonable way to heal or cure or repair that much damage to an animal.”

The driver who struck the bear was unhurt, according to the sheriff’s department.

“Imagine driving down the road at 7 o’clock in the morning, you haven’t had your coffee yet and a bear comes out in the road. It’s very much a panic situation,” Hughan said. “I don’t think anybody’s blaming the motorist. It’s just bad luck for the bear.”

Auto accidents involving bears are rare in Southern California, Hughan added.

“It happens in Northern California all the time, and it happens in the Eastern Sierras all the time,” he said. “There are more bears and people tend to drive faster out on the country roads.”

The euthanized bear was untagged, erasing any fear that it was Glendale’s favorite bear known as “Meatball” or its Twitter handle, “Glenbearian.” That bear was tagged, tranquilized and relocated to Angeles National Forest twice earlier this year.

Hughan also said it is unlikely that the bear is the same one spotted several times this summer in a neighborhood around Pomander Place in La Cañada Flintridge. That bear is believed to be larger than the one killed Sunday, he said.

--Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

Twitter: @ValleySunDan