Bear Naked Truth

Goings-on with black bears in the Tahoe Basin and beyond

Listless Carnelian Bay Bear Suffered From Cancer

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  • October 8, 2020

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.

A sedated, immobilized, blindfolded black bear lies atop a veterinarian's table in advance of an examination inside of CDFW's Wildlife Investigations Lab near Sacramento.
A sedated, immobilized Carnelian Bay black bear awaits a wildlife veterinarian's examination inside CDFW's Wildlife Investigations Lab near Sacramento. CDFW photo.

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.

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