From Claremont to Malibu and the forest to the valley and back again and again, the bear dubbed Yellow 2291 might have something to teach us



CHATSWORTH, CA — The same wandering bear that had to be shot out of a Chatsworth tree with a tranquilizing dart, turned up again in a Sylmar neighborhood days after wildlife officials attempted to relocate her deep in the mountains.

The collared bear dubbed Yellow 2291 has proven to be something of a marvel to the state wildlife officials studying her. She wanders great distances, seems to cross freeways, and has a predilection for civilization.

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The bear is a 3 to 5-year-old female first captured in the Claremont area in late May. Since then, she has been tracked all the way to Malibu and to Northridge and Chatsworth south of the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway last week. After eluding wildlife officials for a day in Northridge, they caught her perched in a tree in a Chatsworth industrial park across the street from a densely populated apartment complex last week.

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It’s pretty unusual to see a bear travel so far across such a populated area, according to Daly.

“I gather this bear made it across a lot of potential barriers,” he said. “It’s pretty remarkable.”

A local climbing gym helped place foam pads at the base of the street, the bear was shot with a tranquilizer and fell to the pads.

Fish and Wildlife officials then loaded her into a truck for relocation deeper into the local mountains. The plan was to take her deep enough into the woods that she wouldn’t feel the need to head back into the suburbs to find food and water, said Tim Daly, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

But less than a week later, Yellow was back in the San Fernando Valley perched in a Sylmar tree where officials monitored her until she wandered back into the woods. It’s at least the second time she’s been shipped to the forest only to make her way back to populated areas.

“She actually has had some of the most interesting collar data that we’ve ever seen,” Jessica West, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told NBCLA last week. “She’s just wandering. It might be a little more typical to see that with a male bear, just because being male, they do tend to have, you know, bigger home ranges.”

Since Yellow first caught the attention of wildlife officials in May, she likely crossed some of the nation’s busiest freeways.

She made it from the 210 Freeway to Malibu most likely via an underpass in the area of the Golden State (5) Freeway an Highway 14. Then she would have made it across the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway and into the Santa Monica Mountains where only one other bear is known to live in recent years. But she didn’t find what she was looking for and headed back to the Angeles National Forest, according to the tracking data gathered by state wildlife officials.

Her wandering ways may prove to be useful to officials as Los Angeles embraces wildlife crossings to try to save wildlife genetically isolated and frequently killed by our freeways.

The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, being constructed over the Ventura (101) Freeway in Agoura Hills is the world’s largest wildlife crossing. Officials chose the location because it has been the site of frequent attempts by mountain lions and other wildlife venturing out for new territory.

While their carcasses guided officials on where to build, Yellow’s success could also help officials identify the place for the next wildlife crossing.

“If we can figure out where about she was crossing, either under or over these freeways, that can really influence” where future wildlife crossings should go, West told The Los Angeles Times.