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Orphaned bear cub escapes Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care facility

By Andrew Haubner

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    TAHOE, California (KOVR) — An orphaned bear cub is on the loose in South Lake Tahoe and wildlife officials are asking everyone to keep their eyes out.

This is the second bear escape from the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care facility in the last two years.

“These are wild animals, and they can and do get out sometimes, unfortunately,” said Peter Tira, a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Ann Bryant of the Bear League works closely with the wildlife center and said heavy snowfall could have played a factor.

“The banks are really high. They’re sometimes 10-15 feet high where a person or an animal couldn’t walk up previously to get to the top of the fence, now it’s easy,” she said.

Bryant said there’s less concern with this bear than the Tamarack Fire bear, which escaped in 2021.

“This is bad in that he escaped, but if any bear’s going to make it, from what we know about this guy, he’s pretty tough. He does not like people and he’s pretty wild,” she said.

Even with confidence in its health, Fish and Wildlife has opened an investigation.

“Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, however, has been a long-term partner with us [and] plays a very important role in the Tahoe area,” Tira said. “We have a very large bear population up there, so that care that they provide young bears, orphaned bears, is very important.”

Fish and Wildlife hopes that the public can help find the bear without going looking for it.

“We’re not asking for anyone to organize a search party,” Tira said. “That’s a lot of snow up there off the main roads. It can get a little dangerous, but just keep your eyes open.”

So those caring for the bear can do what they do.

“Tell us how he looks, what he’s doing, maybe get some video of him, but don’t approach. Don’t scare him. Don’t hunt him down,” Tira said.

Fish and Wildlife wouldn’t comment on the nature of the investigation but those with knowledge of the facility told CBS13 that they feel it was likely due to a mechanical issue with the electric fence.

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