Squaw bear thriving, looking to future in a zoo | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Squaw bear thriving, looking to future in a zoo

A bear cub that was – depending on how you look at it – either abducted or rescued last week at Squaw Valley USA continues to grow healthier under the care of its new foster parents, the California Department of Fish and Game.

Patrick Foy, spokesman for the state agency, said officials plan to keep the 1-year-old female bear at a wildlife lab in Rancho Cordova, Calif., for at least a few weeks. As she gets back her health, Foy said, agency officials are looking for a permanent home. It will most likely be a zoo.

“That animal has been so habituated to humans and human food, there’s no chance for release,” he said.

At the wildlife lab, she now lives in a zoo-like setting and is fed much like she would eat in the wild, with fruit, vegetables and dead animals.

The Lake Tahoe-based Bear Preservation League picked the cub up on March 22 from Squaw Valley. With no mother present, she had been hanging around the popular North Shore ski resort for more than a week.

Fish and Game officials were not present but told the bear league over the telephone not to take her. However, league members captured the bear and took her to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in South Lake Tahoe. There Fish and Game picked her up and took her to Rancho Cordova.

Fish and Game officials have said the league shouldn’t have taken the wild animal but should have hazed it, meaning scared her away so she feared humans.

However, members of the Bear Preservation League, a coalition of residents who try to educate people about coexisting with bears, have stood by their decision, saying that the California authorities weren’t there to see that hazing wouldn’t work on the scared, famished cub. The league had wanted to have the bear rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

Bob Malm, program director of the Bear Preservation League, said Thursday he believes some zoos exist where the bear could be happy.

“If it was a good facility – and there are a few good facilities – it may be good for her,” Malm said. “It’s just not resolved yet.”

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