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State Officials Release Snack-Happy Kings Beach Bear Back Into Wild

LAKE TAHOE (CBS 13/CBS SF) -- A Tahoe-area bear that became a viral sensation for his snack breaks at several Kings Beach stores is getting a second chance in the wild after being captured and released by state Fish and Wildlife officials.

The bear became a viral sensation after being caught in multiple surveillance camera videos showing the 500-pound animal strolling through the aisles at a Kings Beach gas station convenience store and a Safeway grocery store.

That bear has now been captured and removed from Kings Beach by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

CBS 13 in Sacramento reports that surveillance videos inside that Chevron gas station store show the bizarre bear encounters. One recording shows a customer slapping the bear's backside at the store entrance, then following it inside and scaring it back out again.

Another video captured the bear lunging at employee Paul Heigh, who backs away.

"Not in the job description," Heigh said. "No, not at all."

In-store cameras also captured the bear lying down and eating candy in the aisles.

Cell phone video inside a nearby Kings Beach Safeway also captured a bear browsing the shelves.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife were able to confirm that all the videos showed the same bear. Fish and Wildlife personnel were able to capture the bear.

The agency recently posted their own video they say shows the bear being released into an area they describe as "a large expanse of wild, suitable bear habitat."

The decision to remove the bear from Kings Beach came after a health and wellness evaluation inside a Rancho Cordova Fish and Wildlife center. The agency determined the bear is a 16-year-old male that at some point suffered a broken bone in his hind leg that had not healed.

Anne Bryant with the BEAR League is concerned the bear's removal from its familiar territory puts it at risk.

"I think this was not good for the bear," Bryant said. "If he was taken to another bear's habitat, that other bear is going to be territorial. This bear is compromised. It's crippled. He's crippled."

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is hopeful the bear that became known for Kings Beach surveillance video snack attacks will adjust to his new surroundings.


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