COLUSA, CA - An almost mature, male California black bear weighing at least 125 pounds wandered the streets of Colusa for hours before he was tranquilized by Fish and Game wardens.
Neighbors along Oak Street in Colusa reported wild barking by neighborhood dogs on Sunday night, but it wasn't until about 4 am that calls began coming in that a bear was walking east along Oak Street in central Colusa.
Eagle Hickey heard something in his neighbor's side yard and looked out his window at about 6am.
"And there it was. So I took a couple of pictures," Hickey said.
His daughter Jessica Luntz remembers what she was thinking a short time later.
"I was thinking if it would hurt me or not," Luntz said.
She didn't need to worry. The bear had gone to sleep under a couple of canoes sitting on sawhorses and Colusa police kept the him corraled in the side yard until wardens from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife arrived and soon had the bear tranquilized.
"I was shocked. Absolutely shocked," said Colusa city councilwoman Marilyn Acree, as she recalled an email informing her the city's police force had the bear almost in custody.
It turned out the bear had walked right by her home a few hours before.
"I have no idea where he came from," Acree said.
Warden Chris Stoots said the most likely place the bear came from was the riparian area beside the Sacramento River just four blocks to the north.
"Throughout the Sacramento Valley, one of the last remaining good wildlife habitats is the vegetated, riparian area along the river," Stoots said.
Little Jessica Luntz had her own theory.
"I think he came from Hawaii," she said.
The wardens carried the bear to a waiting truck and drove him to some scenic Bureau of Land Management land in the hills to the west of Colusa, after putting a tag in it's ear so they could identify the bear if he came back.
That's where the bear began to come out of its stupor and discover his new home.
"I recall looking over my shoulder one last time where we let him go and looking at the vast, open country with the pond and everything that he was by and it was one of the most meaningful and memorable moments that I've had on the job," Stoots said.
And is Jessica going to have a story to tell the kids at school?
"Uh huh, I did already," she said.