Meatball's History: 

Meatball is a wild Black Bear that started making headlines in California after a youtube video went viral of a man aimlessly walking down an alleyway while texting on his phone when he almost ran into the now famous Bear. Since then, Meatball has been caught on multiple occasions in Glendale, a local Los Angeles neighborhood, breaking into people’s garages and backyards to rummage through trash and was known for eating for meatballs – hence the name. California Fish & Game relocated the bear deep into the Angeles National Forest, but unfortunately made a quick return back.

It became obvious that Meatball was accustomed to the Glendale area as he continued his escapades in local neighborhoods by continuously digging in trash as well as swimming in private pools and napping in trees. He quickly became not only a local celebrity, but also nationally for his antics - which actually helped reduce the likelihood of him being euthanized.

A twitter account was even created in his honor - Glen Bearian - and now has over 27,000 Twitter followers. California Fish & Game relocated him once again deep into the forest, but they only gave him a 50/50 of staying away. Sure enough, Meatball made his way back to Glendale yet again. 

After being spotted in another private pool, Meatball was captured with some yummy treats by Fish & Game. The bear was brought to Lions, Tigers & Bears, a small facility near San Diego, as a temporary holding area. News quickly spread like wildfire in Los Angeles that Meatball was caught and not being sent back to the wild. 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary was actually contacted by California Fish & Game back when they relocated Meatball the first time - as CA Fish & Game thought he may return and would need to be placed in a Sanctuary.  Without hesitation, The Wild Animal Sanctuary agreed to rescue him if need be. 

CA Fish & Game knew the best option for displaced wild Bears is the Sanctuary - since all of the animals get to roam freely in large acreage natural habitats. After receiving official word that Meatball was captured for the final time, The Sanctuary immediately started working on the proper paperwork to bring him to the Sanctuary. 

Colorado Parks & Wildlife randomly decided to interfere with the rescue citing a regulation that was created several years ago that states no wild animal from the wild can be placed in a wildlife sanctuary - even though the initial purpose of the rule was to prevent Colorado rehabilitation facilities from flooding sanctuaries with animals that became habituated to human contact. 

A CO state law on the other hand defines a wildlife sanctuary as being able to rescue displaced, orphaned or abandoned wildlife and caring for them for the rest of their lives. The Sanctuary has saved several displaced wild bears from California over the last decade - including two very young orphaned Cubs just a couple of weeks ago! 

Colorado Parks & Wildlife never had a problem with these rescues until Meatball.  The Wild Animal Sanctuary has since been tirelessly fighting the misinterpreted regulation in order to save Meatball's life - as well as all of the other bears that are not able to go back to the wild. 

The Sanctuary's attorney contacted the CO State Attorney General's Office requesting intervention... but The State Attorney's representative chose not to convince the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission to repeal the regulation.

At this point two approaches to saving Meatball need to be made:

(1) - The Wild Animal Sanctuary will file a law suit to gain intervention by a Judge

(2) - People all across the nation need to write, call & email:

(a) the CO Wildlife Commissioners (they can easily repeal the regulation)

(b) The Governor Of CO (he is the person who appoints the commissioners)

(c) The CO State Attorney General's Office (they can intervene on a legal basis)

Letter From The Executive Director of The Wild Animal Sanctuary

(taken from a special edition of the Sanctuary News)

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this special edition from The Wild Animal Sanctuary.  This is an incredibly rare occasion where we are mailing an urgent plea to over 75,000 dedicated supporters across the nation – as we are facing a monumental issue and need your immediate help to solve it!

We are currently entrenched in a battle to not only save a single bear’s life… but also to save other wildlife… and the Sanctuary’s ability to help all animals in need.  Time is of the essence, and I hope you will understand the magnitude of what has to be done - and why it is so important for you to speak out now.

As many of you may remember, over the past decade or so, we have crossed a handful of thresholds where the Sanctuary’s future was at stake.  Each time this has happened, our supporters have resoundingly answered our plea for help – and we have survived as a result of the overwhelming response.

Today, we face another challenge that threatens the core of what we stand for, and what we do.  The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW)(formerly known as the Colorado Division of Wildlife) has recently decided to change their stance on a regulation created in 2005 concerning animals that come from the wild.

Plain and simple, they have come out against a rescue that we were working on in California.  The rescue involves an adult male Black Bear named “Meatball”, who has grown in notoriety over the past year for his antics in the city of Glendale, CA.

Like many other wild bears who are starving from the effects of the drought in the western half of the United States… Meatball found himself with no other option than to begin frequenting neighborhood trash cans and garages in search of food.

His occasional antics included going for dips in people’s swimming pools… as well as running into understandably surprised pedestrians.  In any case, his trysts with society ended up with the CA Fish & Game catching and relocating him a number of times.

However, Meatball was determined to return to his LA lifestyle… which resulted in his being captured and sentenced to either die – or be placed in a Sanctuary.   That’s where we came into the picture.

Having helped the CA Fish & Game with other problem bears from time to time, they knew to call us in order to save Meatball from execution.  And of course, we agreed to help by giving Meatball a permanent home.

Everything was in place for us to drive out and bring Meatball home when we received word from the CPW that there was no way Meatball – or any other wild animal – was going to come to the Sanctuary.  Of course we were not only upset, but also mystified by the news, as we had been allowed to save a number of wild animals throughout the history of the Sanctuary – and most notably – since 2005.

What it boiled down to was a regulation the CPW threw into a section of their regulations that pertained to licensing Sanctuaries.  This new regulation (created in 2005) said specifically “No wildlife taken from the wild shall be possessed by any wildlife sanctuary.”

What was the purpose of this regulation you ask – good question!  

It seems pretty simple and straight forward doesn’t it… but in reality, its meaning was highly questioned by myself back in 2005 when the CPW suggested it to the Wildlife Commissioners.  At that time, I was told that it was written to help keep animals coming from Colorado Rehab facilities from ending up in Sanctuaries.

By that, I mean they said they were concerned with wildlife rehabbers failing to successfully rehabilitate injured or orphaned wildlife… and that they didn’t want Sanctuaries becoming an easy option for animals that became imprinted to their human caretakers.  Of course we agreed with that concept, as it is important that rehabilitation facilities succeed in rehabilitating their animals… so we agreed to leave the regulation alone.

However, given a 32 year history of regulations being written for one thing – but then being applied toward a totally different purpose a decade or so later… I should have known this regulation would eventually come back to haunt the animals we are trying to help!  Needless to say, the current administration at the CPW thinks differently.

As far as they are concerned, the regulation is what it is and nothing else.  Of the few people that were remain active in the CPW that were involved with the regulation’s development back then… most purport that the regulation was written to keep other states from dumping thousands of animals on us and to keep Colorado from becoming the wildlife dumping grounds of the nation.

Their favorite quote now is to say let California deal with their own problems… and don’t give them to us.  What kind of statement is that?  Since when does the CPW care for any of the animals we take in… and how is this their problem?   Last time we checked our donor records, we didn’t see the CPW making any contributions towards supporting the Sanctuary’s food or medical bills… nor did we ever see them caring that we have rescued and currently care for more than 80 bears! 

So what is it about saving the life of a wild bear versus a captive born bear that gets them so angry?  Another good question.  Is there really anything that matters more than saving a life whenever and wherever possible? 

Do borders, boundaries or nationalities matter?  Somehow it is OK that we have saved hundreds of animals from other states, as well as other countries as far away as Panama and Bolivia – so why is it so upsetting that a Bear from Colorado, Utah or California needs our compassion?

What is it about the words abandoned, orphaned, or displaced wildlife that is unclear?  Another good question!  There is little to be misunderstood when the legislature voted this law into being, and how the CPW could create a regulation opposing it remains a mystery.

The bottom line to all this is the CPW is forbidding us to help Meatball, as well as many other innocent victims.  Remember Zoe the coyote?  She was another case where this regulation was used to sentence her to death.  Thank goodness one of the CPW Commissioners saw fit to help her escape to Canada…

What we need is your help.  You are the key to rectifying this situation, as your voice is what counts.  As citizens of Colorado, California, or wherever you live – you represent the public’s conscience and what is right.  What you want, is what our elected officials should strive to do.

Please take the time to call, write or email each and every one of the officials listed - as these are the people who can fix the situation by repealing this life-threatening regulation.  

Tell them you how you feel and let them know that every life is worth saving regardless of origin. 

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