Tahoe Wildlife Care approved to house bears
South Lake Tahoe is on its way to becoming home to California’s first orphanage for bear cubs.
The Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care has been approved for an interim agreement by California Fish and Game, allowing it to care for orphaned black bear cubs.
The decision came last week, after years of lobbying by the nonprofit organization which works to rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife and release them into their natural environments.
“We’ve been trying for five or six years to get a permit,” said Cheryl Millham, executive director of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. “We’re very pleased to be working with the (California Fish and Game) on the first permit to rehab bear cubs.”
Ken Nilsson, captain of California Fish and Game, said the new rehabilitation facility will not have an effect on the state’s bear population, which they say is healthy.
“It’s good public relations and good faith that the Fish and Game can relate to individual animals,” Nilsson said. “And that’s a step in the right direction for us.”
Fish and Game receives about two orphaned bear cubs each year, he said. They formerly were sent to a rehabilitation facility in Washington before being released into the wild.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care formerly acted as a holding tank for injured bears on their way to the Washington facility. It can now take in orphaned bear cubs from newborn to 7 months old, whose mothers have been killed.
But Nilsson said there is more work to be done before a final permit can be issued to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.
“Their cage is not specifically designed for bears and we need to see what modifications need to be done,” he said. “We also need to do some homework and look at what other facilities in other states are doing.”
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, at 1485 Cherry Hills Drive, began building a special bear cub cage five years ago, when it first applied for the permit five years ago.
“We’ve got the foundation and the plumbing in,” Millham said. “We’re ready to start with the walls.”
The total project, which has plans for three separate compartments that can keep the cub separated from human contact, will cost about $25,000 to complete.
Donations can be sent to 1485 Cherry Hills Circle, South Lake Tahoe, Calif. 96150.
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