Cub staying at Wildlife Care |

Cub staying at Wildlife Care

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

For six months, a black bear cub from North Shore will learn how to be a wild bear at South Shore.

The bear is a 4-month-old, 26-pound orphan cub that was seen frequently wandering the grounds at Northstar-at-Tahoe Ski Resort last week. After wildlife officials deemed the animal a viable candidate for rehabilitation, it was captured, given a physical and sent to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

“We’re going to try to raise the bear with minimal human contact, fatten the bear up through summer and fall,” said Patrick Foy, a California Fish and Game employee. “In the middle of winter we’ll release the bear into a den (for hibernation)”

The cub, which will not be given a name, was slightly confused when he entered his new home but relaxed several hours later.

“He’s doing just great,” said Cheryl Millham, co-owner with her husband Tom at the Tahoe Wildlife Center. “He’s calming down, going around the cage, wondering what’s in there. Right now he’s on a high area taking a nap.”

The wildlife center is the only Northern California bear rehabilitation organization and among a handful in the nation.

Finding a bear worth rehabilitating and the recondition process itself is a delicate process.

The primary question for officials to consider is whether a bear becomes reliant on people for food by cruising into communities searching through Dumpsters and garbage cans. This cub immediately became a nuisance for Northstar, but was not yet rummaging through the resort’s trash..

Ann Bryant, founder of the Bear Preservation League, helped capture the cub Monday night.

“We used very sophisticated equipment,” she said. “Quilts and gloves.”

Northstar security alerted Bryant and her team when the bear was spotted, scampering up a tree around 5 p.m.

Beneath the tree, the team crouched low and offered peanuts. When the cub climbed down and was within reach, Bryant helped grab the back legs and put the bear in a netting device.

With approval from the California Fish and Game, Bryant had the bear spend the night in her Homewood residence, where it weeped in the garage.

“I had to sing lullabies to him to keep him from crying,” Bryant said. “It was a long night, no sleep, but worth it.”

After a physical in the Sacramento Valley on Tuesday, the cub was taken to South Lake Tahoe in the back of Foy’s dark green Jeep Cherokee.

He was welcomed into his new home, a dim, roomy and toy-filled cage Thursday amidst news television cameras and about a dozen onlookers.

For the first five minutes, the cub lapped water.

“He was very, very hot” Millham said.

The baby bear will be starved of human contact but fed with vegetable and fruit matter and venison from deers hit by car. Currently he’s on baby bear formula: multi-milk mixed with baby peaches.

The bear, estimated to be a 4-months-old, weighs 26 pounds but cubs that age could weigh up to 40, Millham said.

“They like water so we’re going to give him a lot of dandelion greens and watercress,” said Millham.

In addition, the bear will have a crash course on how to find food, including grubs in rotten logs and fish in rivers.

Two years ago, the care center received two groups of two bears for rehabilitation. The first batch, one from Yosemite and the other from Trinity National Forest, arrived in June 2000 and were released back into their home wilderness in January 2001.

The Yosemite bear was suited with a tracking device. When wildlife officials viewed the bear munching on food, the skirted away. Just how it should be. The Lake Tahoe Wildlife Center will be seeking raspberry branches in the near future. People who wish to leave some branches for the cub can call the center at (530) 577-2273.

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