A sedated, immobilized Carnelian Bay black bear awaits a wildlife veterinarian's examination inside CDFW's Wildlife Investigations Lab near Sacramento. CDFW photo.
As wildlife managers, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) staff are trained to hope for the best while preparing for the worst.
Last weekend, a CDFW environmental scientist specializing in human-wildlife conflicts responded to worried reports about a very sick or injured bear in the Carnelian Bay area of northern Lake Tahoe in Placer County. These reports were bolstered by a troubling video clip that showed a staggering bear slowly entering a small patch of habitat in a residential area. When CDFW arrived at the scene, the listless animal was located under a nearby structure.
Finding a bear that was mostly non-responsive, CDFW acted swiftly under animal welfare protocols to anesthetize the bruin and transport it to its Wildlife Investigations Lab near Sacramento for further expert evaluation. A veterinarian’s exam confirmed a severely dehydrated and emaciated adult female black bear with sunken eyes, protruding bones, and only weighing 115 pounds – or about half the average size for a female bear more than 10 years of age.
The bear’s significantly compromised condition, coupled with abnormal swelling of her mammary glands and other lesions, led CDFW to a presumptive diagnosis of “end-stage metastatic cancer.” As such, this animal’s suffering was ended as swiftly and humanely as possible, and the initial diagnosis was later confirmed via necropsy.