Black bear cub being treated for burns after rescue from wildfire escapes

‘He is not in imminent danger and is not a threat, but we need to locate him as soon as possible’

By Sheila Flynn
in Denver
Wednesday 04 August 2021 00:12
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Bear cub rescued from California wildfire

A black bear cub being treated in California for severe burns after being rescued from the Tamarack fire has escaped the wildlife centre.

The six-month-old bear – named Tamarack after the fire – “escaped his enclosure and managed to tunnel under an electric fence,” the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Centre said. “We need residents and visitors to the South Lake Tahoe area to be aware and alert to help us locate him quickly so he can be returned to get the medical care that he needs.

“He is not in imminent danger and is not a threat, but we need to locate him as soon as possible ... It is important that people keep distance from him as he is scared of humans and close contact will likely make him hide or run.”

Residents should be on the lookout “for a small brown bear cub of 25 pounds,” the centre said. “He might have bandages on his front paws.”

Tamarack is “likely to be active in the evening and nighttime hours, so please slow down when driving and make sure your dogs are not unaccompanied. He is likely in a tree or hiding in a small space.”

The bear was discovered alone at the end of last month after homeowners were allowed to return home to a restricted fire area.

“We don’t know where the mom is,” centre board member and spokesman Greg Erfrani told The Independent last week. “Mothers in any species protect their young, so our feeling is that the fire was getting close – because obviously the cub had burns – and she put him in a safe place and probably returned to either find another cub or is looking for safety, where to take him.”

He added: “This mom was so lucky, because it is a fire-restricted area, and these were the only people given permission to return to their homes ... Nobody would have seen him, because it’s pitch black there. It’s totally dark, because there’s no electricity. This little guy, man – the mom took care of her baby.”

The long-term goal of caretakers was to eventually release him into his natural habitat, but Tamarack clearly had other plans.

But finding him is urgent. Mr. Erfani told The Independent last week that “his burns are so bad that he wouldn’t have survived in the wild – so no matter what, we would have had to rescue him.”

The wildlife centre is collaborating with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, local law enforcement and all community resources that are available, the centre said in a release. A number has been set up and anyone with location tips is, again, urged not to approach Tamarack but to call 530 577 2273.

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