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Meatball auction hits a "bearier" and is yanked

Published On: Nov 08 2012 10:25:29 AM CST
Updated On: Nov 08 2012 10:31:49 AM CST
ALPINE, Calif. -

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.