Firefighters rescue bear stuck in Oxnard tree

OXNARD, Calif. Police, firefighters and /*Fish and Game*/ officials worked for several hours to get the 200-pound bear out of the tree in the Santa Clara Cemetery in the 600 block of Nandina Circle.

The cemetery is adjacent to an apartment complex with hundreds of units, and many spectators in the area came out to see what the commotion was.

The incident was a first not only for the people who witnessed it, but also for the rescuers involved.

The bear was first reported prowling in the area at about 2 a.m. Joseph Gonzalez said the sound of the bear in his backyard gave him an unexpected wake-up call.

"I thought it was a burglar. I came outside with my knife and my dog, and I expected to see some guy trying to rob my house, and it was a bear," he said with a laugh.

Officials began their rescue effort by shooting tranquilizer darts at the bear.

"They finally were able to get a tranquilizer into his behind, but that caused him to go further up the tree," said David Keith, a spokesman for the Oxnard Police Department. The bear became groggy, then dozed off and slumped over the branches 25 feet above the ground.

Firefighters were careful not to harm the bear as they went into action. Rescuers had to get a special harness in order to hoist the bear to safety.

"His front half was heavier than his back half, and he would flip over the branch and come down, so we got some straps on him as quick as we could to hold his weight in the tree to keep him from falling," said Oxnard Fire Capt. Roy Peacock.

With careful maneuvering, the fire department lifted the bear they jokingly called Boo-Boo. The bear was taken out of the tree at 9:10 a.m.

Officials said although the bear has brown fur, it is actually a California black bear. It is about two or three years old and will be released in the Los Padres National Forest, where officials believe it came from.

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