Wildlife displaced by Caldor receives aid from agencies near and far

Miranda Jacobson
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care permanent resident Em, a bald eagle, gets used to a new enclosure. (Provided)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Caldor Fire has displaced thousands of Lake Tahoe residents in the last few days, but for the last two weeks, Sierra wildlife have also been fleeing the flames.

There are many “on the ground” agencies that have been helping in the wake of this disaster through rescuing and treating animals at temporary shelters, transporting them when needed, and taking them to other animal shelters nearby.

In an effort to help support these frontline workers and the animals being displaced, the Dave and Cheryl Duffield Foundation announced this week it would be awarding $1 million to 29 different organizations for rescuing and rehabilitating these animals.

“We are honored to be able to support the efforts of these outstanding organizations who are doing everything they can to help animals being affected by the Caldor Fire,” said executive director of the foundation, Jerleen Bryant. “The Duffields are long-time benefactors of animal causes, and they appreciate the hard work and efforts to help both animals and people in need during this difficult time.”

Many of the organizations receiving funding are 100% volunteer run and do not receive any federal or state funding. The South Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, which has already been evacuated, is one of the recipients.

The center began planning last Sunday for an evacuation of their team members and wildlife, and animal care manager Jenny Curtis said that while all of the facilities animals were transported out of the center safely, there are still many wild animals out there that have been displaced, and their only clues as to where they are through photos posted on social media.

A bear that was photographed near the Stateline casino corridor earlier this week had to be euthanized due to the severity of her burns from the fire after officials were able to locate her following the picture being posted. .

“We are getting pictures of different bears in the area,” said Curtis. “We’re thinking that since the town is being protected, a lot of them are going to end up in town.”

Curtis noted that while many animals are fleeing the area due to the fire, they are also heavily disoriented by the smoke, and many of them could be injured.

“My biggest concern is, look at how unhealthy it is for us,” said Curtis. “They’re breathing it in constantly. They can’t get out of the smoke at all. So health issues might be an issue in the future with our wildlife that survived the fire… What’s that going to do to them?”

As much of the wildlife could begin to start heading north to areas not yet evacuated, Curtis said that the Gold County Wildlife Rescue team’s Wildlife Disaster Network is the number to call. They can be reached at 1-800-942-6459. The SLWC is unable to be on the front lines saving animals for everyone’s safety, and said they would be forwarding any calls they get to the disaster network line.

“They have a response team that can actually go out into the field and they can assess the animals and determine whether they can be rehabilitated or whether they need to be humanely put down,” said Curtis.

Ways to help the wildlife of Tahoe are actually very simple.

“Put water out for all of the wildlife,” said Curtis.

Curtis explained that many of the animals coming into the towns surrounding the basin will be most likely disoriented and confused, and water is one thing that all animals will need and appreciate.

For those who decide to put out tubs or small plastic pools, Curtis said to remember a stick or large rock to go in the water in order for smaller animals, like squirrels or chipmunks, to crawl in and out without getting stuck in the water.

The second thing that people can do is call the WDN when they see animals, whether you see a photo online or an animal in person when evacuation orders are lifted in residential areas.

Along with wildlife centers and organizations attempting to save as many wildlife creatures as possible, there are many counties that have set up animal shelters for domestic animals and livestock as well.

El Dorado County Animal Services is offering an evacuation center for small animals at 6435 Capital Avenue in Diamond Springs. For animal evacuations or assistance, call 530-621-5795.

While the second El Dorado County shelter for larger animals have filled to capacity, Reno still has many evacuation centers available. The Reno Sparks Convention Center is available, with limited crates and space for small animals. The center is located at 4590 South Virginia Street.

For a complete list of animal evacuation centers, visit

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.