After numerous sightings, authorities have confirmed that nestled deep within a thicket near Harder Stadium lurks a 250-pound black bear.
The American Black Bear is not native to the marshes around UCSB and was likely displaced by the 2007 Zaca Fire, officials said. The bear – which has not caused any damage or threatened individuals – probably found its way to campus after following one of the many creeks that feed into Goleta Slough, officials from the California Department of Fish and Game said.
According to University of California Police Dept. spokesperson Matt Bowman, the animal was first sighted last Saturday behind the police department building and spotted once more on Tuesday before disappearing into an overgrown field between Harder Stadium and Los Carneros Road.
Lt. George Gross, a warden with the Dept. of Fish and Game, said several wardens armed with tranquilizer guns entered the field Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to subdue the bear.
“One of our wardens came within 15 feet of the animal, but couldn’t get a clean shot,” Gross said. “Since it’s not aggressive, our goal is to capture it alive and take it back to the national forest. We don’t want to do it any harm.”
Gross advised students who stumble upon the creature to remain calm.
“If you see it, it’ll probably run away from you,” Gross said. “But if you do get close to it, the key is to stand and face it, back up slowly, and don’t run. It would probably also be a good idea to get [a weapon] in your hand.”
In hopes of capturing the creature, wardens have set up a covert trap near Los Carneros Road. Gross said the device works by luring the bear into a metal tube baited with honey and bacon.
Despite a reported sighting of the bear crossing Highway 101 and heading toward the mountains near Winchester Canyon, Fish and Game wardens said they will continue trapping for the next three days.
“If we don’t get it after that, we assume it’s gone,” Gross said. “If we do get it, we’ll take it somewhere in the national forest where it can be with other bears and have a happy bear life.”