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Why LA's Bears Are Coming Out Right Now

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They're just dopey teens learning the hard way

In the last three days, there have been two incidences of a "bear in a residential neighborhood evading police and ultimately being captured." One bear, roaming through Duarte, was briefly chased, then hit with a tranquilizer dartand returned to the wild, says KTLA.

The LA Times reports another bear partook in a quick trip to Los Angeles Mission College, then took a stroll through a neighborhood in Sylmar before also being darted and returned to the mountains from whence he or she came.

What's up with these bears? Are they just exercising their genetic tendency to be troublemakers or looking for a cold swimming pool to dip into, or is there something else at work? According to wildlife officials, it's the latter. They tell KPCC that these bear-on-the-run encounters are all totally normal for these bears at this time of year, and in these north-of-the-210-Freeway 'hoods.

A rep for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says that the bears so far have been more or less the equivalent of teenage bears, striking out on their own for the first time. This time of year is when these "yearling" bears (one and a half to two years old) first emerge from the denning season only to be pushed out of the den by their moms in a process called "dispersing."

These young, dopey bears haven't yet learned that cruising suburban dumpsters and foraging in busy, peopled areas will get you darted and photographed in an unflattering way while you're passed out in the back of a Fish and Wildlife officer's truck.

The rep adds that since this is the season when young bears are getting the boot from their dens, there are likely to be more sightings of goofy cubs running through foothills neighborhoods over the next five to six weeks, he estimates.