Wildlife care center opens in Meyers
The bear cub groaned and clung to the wood rafter with the last ounce of strength he had.
Finally, he dropped several feet onto two mattresses on the floor, sedated to the point where he was no longer a danger. Then he was taken across the yard to a temporary home, a $30,000 cinder block cage that opened Sunday afternoon at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in Meyers.
Equipped with a square bathing pit, large pieces of pine to climb on, a tire hanging by a rope and a partition that provides two eating and sleeping areas, the cage is an ideal place for a bear to rehab.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Cheryl Millham, executive director of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. “The bears have their own place. A lot of people put a lot of work into this. Without the public making donations we would’ve never had enough money to do this. So I’d like to say thanks to the whole community.”
LTWC is the only wildlife care facility in California authorized by Fish and Game to rehabilitate and release baby bears. The center received a rehab permit in May.
LTWC has cared for two bear cubs since they were found orphaned in June. They plan to keep them a few more months then release them back to their native habitats.
The larger of the two cubs is from Yosemite. When he arrived June 14, he was four months old and weighed 16 pounds. On Sunday he weighed in at 115 pounds. His partner arrived two weeks later from Trinity, Calif. He was a smaller bear and only two months old, currently he weighs 80 pounds.
Before the new 410-square-foot bear facility opened, the cubs, because they were smaller, were kept in a medium-sized cage. As they grew, the need to finish constructing the larger bear cage grew.
Its foundation was laid five years ago, but it wasn’t until July that volunteers began working full tilt on the project. An electrician, a garage door company, contractors, a roofing company, a grocery store, among many others, volunteered their time, skill and material to help build the facility.
“We’re the first one in the state of California to get this,” Cheryl said. “Right now were it. Either we get them (cubs) or they’re dead.”
The official name of the cage is Pete and Diana Mountenous Bear Rehabilitation Facility. The Mountenous family donated $10,000 to the project. LTWC will show the facility at an open house they plan to hold at the end of June.
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