This Surprising Woodland Shopper Was Spotted In An L.A. Ralphs

When California supermarket chain Ralphs promised to deliver on "Fresh Food, Low Prices," we didn't quite expect this tagline to turn into a call to the wild, yet here we are. 

Shoppers at a Ralphs branch in Porter Ranch, Los Angeles were given a jolt this weekend when a young bear decided to join them as they wandered up and down the aisles during their early morning grocery run. ABC7 says officers were initially responding to what they thought was a report of three bears inside a Ralphs supermarket, but which turned out to be just one very curious bear that decided to kick off the weekend with a food run. It might not have been too happy with the stock at Ralphs, because the bear apparently decided to head to Walmart instead, where members of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife eventually found the 120-pound animal, tranquilized it, and took it to the Angeles National Forest where it was released. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Diminishing food stock is leading to more human-wildlife encounters

The shopping bear is just the latest in a string of human-bear encounters that residents all around Los Angeles county have been capturing and sharing on social media. Fish and Wildlife officers have told ABC7 that the reports of increased sightings could be because cameras have been capturing them, but professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Daniel Blumstein thinks differently. "There is a drought. There are food shortages. Bears have large ranges that they wander through looking for food and resources, and if they find water and other resources near people, they might overcome their initial fears and grow accustomed to people and then we suddenly have bears in our backyards," he says.

Other countries around the world have seen more cases of animals making their way into groceries and convenience stores too. A few months ago, in April, shoppers at a 7-Eleven in Thailand were shocked to see a six-foot-long monitor lizard make its way into the store and up the beverage cabinet. That animal eventually left the convenience store and disappeared into the bushes — ostensibly dissatisfied with the beverages selection 7-Eleven had to offer (via The Washington Post).