CDFW donates evidence trout to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — California Department of Fish and Wildlife was able to turn a bad situation into a good one with the donation of 54 trout to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.
On April 28, CDFW received a public tip about a potential poacher near Antelope Lake in Plumas County.
“That area is really far out there and the person had just enough cell service to call us,” said CDFW Lieutenant Kyle Kroll.
Officers responded to the call and found the suspect had 54 trout in his possession, way more over the legal limit of five per day, or 10 in possession.
“All the fish and wildlife belong to the people of California, it’s not just one person’s resource to take,” Kroll said.
The suspect was fined $5,000 and placed on probation which prohibits him from fishing for many years.
“It all went through really fast, with the individual being contacted, the case going to the District Attorney’s office and being prosecuted and the final resolution … it was a quick turnaround time which is pretty impressive,” Kroll said.
CDFW were given the trout after the prosecution and decided to donate the fish, which are about 2 to 3 pounds each, to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.
On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Kroll and Captain Patrick Foy brought the trout to the Wildlife Care’s new facility on Al Tahoe Blvd.
The fish were first given to three brown bears and one black bear, all of which will be released into the wild this spring. Two bears will go home to Mount Shasta, one to Humboldt and one to Ojai.
The bears, named Blaze, Humboldt, Yreka and Ojai, played with the dead fish but were more interested in cameras set up in their enclosure by news crews.
Fish was also given to the facility’s resident bald eagle, Em. He came to LTWC in 2014 with a broken wing. He is now missing most of one wing and will stay with LTWC for the rest of his life.
Em’s cautious around strangers and when given a trout, he stood protectively on top of it, watching all the strangers in the room.
His handler pulled the fish out from under Em and placed it on top of his feet so he’d be more enticed to eat.
“That’s what years of bonding will do,” the handler said. “If I was a complete stranger and I tried to touch his food, he’d rip my face off.”
Eventually, Em felt comfortable and chowed down.
Fish were also given to the raccoons at the facility. LTWC has two raccoon enclosures, one for adults and one for babies.
The facility is also home to hawks, ducks and chipmunks.
Board member Coralin Glerum said the majority of the animals that come to them this time of year are injured, while in June, most of the animals are babies separated from their parents.
“Everything we do is about the release,” said Glerum as she points to LTWC’s new logo of a big cat leaving a box.
She said each building will have a version of that logo with the animal housed in that building.
LTWC moved to their new location in October. They occupy five acres but they own 27.
Glerum said years down the line, their goal would be to use some of the acreage as a wildlife sanctuary for animals like Em, who can’t be released back into the wild.
According to Board Member Bruce Richards, the new facility is a $6.5 million project and they are still looking for donations.
The next building they’ll build will be an animal hospital and administration building.
Denise Upton, Animal Care Director said CDFW’s donation was great.
“We feed these bears a lot of food so any food donations help,” Upton said.
Kroll was pleased with how this story turned out.
“It’s a neat, full-circle story,” Kroll said, and added that this story would not be possible without a tip. He urges anyone who sees anything suspicious out in the wilderness to call CDFW’s hotline, even if they aren’t totally sure.
To call in possible poaching or polluting, call 888-334-2258.
To learn more about LTWC or to make a donation, visit ltwc.org.