Rescued bear cubs start new life in the wild


The cubs got expert help at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in South Lake Tahoe. They are all about 14-15 months old.

One of the bears was discovered injured on March 3 at Heavenly Mountain Resort. It was tranquilized and brought down the hill on a sled by the ski patrol. The cub had some wounds and was limping. It was also very underweight. Dr. Kevin Willits, the rescue center's volunteer veterinarian, could not find any serious injuries and said the cub has now made a full recovery. Once the bear began getting proper food at the rescue center, he went from 49 pounds to 73 pounds in just 10 days,

The other two cubs were rescued last summer by the Bear League. One cub, found near Truckee, had been hit by a car. The other was found near Meeks Bay. His mother had been hit and killed by a car. Both are over 100 pounds now and very healthy.

The first step in the release is to sedate the bears. One was very feisty before the drug took effect.

Marc Kenyon with California Department of Fish and Wildlife says that's a good sign.

"That's telling me the bear is not habituated to people and therefore is less likely to get into nuisance activities down the road," Kenyon said.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care is run by Tom and Cheryl Millham. They've raised almost 60 orphaned or injured bear cubs with the help of dedicated volunteers.

Fish and Wildlife officials are in charge of the all wild animals in California and they handle the release. The bears get ear tags and then they are loaded into cages for the ride to their new homes. California's bears are always released within 75 miles of where they were found and far away from populated areas.

The Truckee and Meeks Bay cubs have become buddies and were released together. The cub found at Heavenly was released in another spot. The department chooses places with good food, water and shelter available. All of the cubs are believed to have a very good chance at living good lives as wild bears.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care and the Bear League get no government money and depend on private donations.

To donate or volunteer for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, click here. To donate or volunteer for the BEAR League, click here.

written and produced by Jennifer Olney

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