Rehabilitating bear escapes shelter in South Lake Tahoe, assistance sought in locating

A young, orphaned black bear escaped Thursday from Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A young, orphaned black bear is on the loose in South Lake Tahoe and officials are seeking help in locating it after it escaped last week from a shelter where it was rehabilitating.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care are asking for the public’s assistance in locating the bear who escaped from the enclosure where it had been on the mend since mid-December.

The 13-month-old male black bear weighs approximately 50 pounds, is microchipped and has a visible, metal tag in its right ear numbered 1028. The bear escaped from LTWC’s outdoor enclosure at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

The young bear was rescued from the Seiad Valley in Siskiyou County on Dec. 13, too young to be on its own and severely underweight at just 20 pounds. The bear was transported to CDFW’s Wildlife Health Lab in Rancho Cordova for a veterinary examination and was found to be in otherwise good health. The bear was moved to LTWC for rehabilitation and eventual release back to the wild. The bear has added 30 pounds in two months of care at LTWC.

The young bear is not in imminent danger and is not a threat but is believed to be too young to survive long-term on its own, particularly given the deep snow and winter conditions present in South Lake Tahoe. 

Given these wintry conditions, CDFW and LTWC are asking the public – both residents and visitors to the South Shore Lake Tahoe area – to keep on the lookout for the bear but not to go out actively searching for it or to approach it if seen. 

“The bear dislikes people and can be extremely skittish,” said a news release on social media. “Please do try to maintain visual contact with the bear when reporting sightings, if possible.

Sightings and tips should be reported to CDFW at 916-358-2917 or LTWC at 530-577-2273. CDFW is looking for the bear and investigating the circumstances surrounding the escape.

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