Things just keep getting busier at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care this summer.
The nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation center in South Lake Tahoe accepted a 10th black bear for treatment Monday, a yearling injured in a wildfire near Wenatchee, Wash. Then on Tuesday it took in an 11th bear, a cub brought in from Paradise, Calif.
Eleven is the most bears the South Lake Tahoe wildlife rehabilitation center has ever had in for treatment at one time.
Seattle-based pilot Bill Inman flew the yearling black bear nicknamed “Cinder” in a one-seat plane to South Lake Tahoe from Wenatchee after the bear was injured in a wildfire.
Wildlife officials in Washington state sent the bear to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care because of its experience treating animals with burns.
In 2008, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care treated a bear cub nicknamed “Li’l Smokey” that was injured in a wildfire near Redding. The bear’s badly burned paws healed after several months and the animal was successfully released back into the wild in February 2009.
“Cinder” weighed about 39 pounds when brought to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. The bear has extensive burns to its paws, legs and face. Veterinarian Kevin Willitts examined the bear Monday morning to prepare a treatment plan for the animal.
“Our hope, our goal, with every animal, is to get them released back into the wild in the best possible health,” said Tom Millham, who runs Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care with his wife, Cheryl, and a team of volunteers.
The bear brought in from Paradise on Tuesday is the third cub brought in from that area this year, Millham said. The animal is believed to be related to the other two cubs.
It’s been a busy year for the nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation center, which wants to move forward next year with a relocation and expansion to a 27-acre parcel near the corner of Al Tahoe Boulevard and Pioneer Trail in South Lake Tahoe. The group is trying to raise funding for a second phase of that project as well as money to treat the bears, which can cost up to $100 per week each to feed.
Aside from the record 11 black bears that are in for treatment, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care is also treating a Canada goose, a dozen raccoons, three red-tail hawks, two great horned owls and some other animals it doesn’t see many of, including a flying squirrel, yellow-bellied marmot and spotted skunk.
“It’s been a busy summer with a lot of different species,” Millham said. He estimates the group will care for 600 to 800 animals this year.