Bear Naked Truth

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

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  • September 21, 2023
A bear cub outfitted with a GPS collar is released back into the Tulare County woods after time spent in wildlife rehabilitation.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has increased its use of GPS technology to better understand the outcomes of black bears released from wildlife rehabilitation facilities.

This year marks the first time that CDFW is tracking with GPS collars all bears released back into the wild after care from the four wildlife rehabilitation centers permitted to care for black bears in California.

It’s a way to track the bears’ behavior and movements and see how they are faring in the wild. CDFW human-wildlife conflict specialists might also use the GPS information to intercept a bear approaching a neighborhood or community and redirect it back to wild habitat.

Among the GPS-tracked, rehabbed bears released in 2023 were two orphaned cubs from Tulare County. CDFW cameras were on scene to capture the final moments of their care at the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Campus and the return of one of the bears to its home in the woods of Tulare County. Learn more at the video featured below.

Categories: Human Wildlife Conflict, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Rehabilitation, Research
  • August 4, 2023

Bears Destined for Wildlife Sanctuary in Colorado and Rehabilitation Facility in Sonoma County

Wildlife biologists for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) this morning safely immobilized a large female conflict bear responsible for at least 21 DNA-confirmed home break-ins and extensive property damage in the South Lake Tahoe area since 2022. Her three cubs were also captured in the effort.

Pending a successful veterinary check, CDFW has secured permission from the State of Colorado to transport the female black bear, known as 64F, and place it with The Wild Animal Sanctuary near Springfield, Colorado, which has agreed to care for it in its expansive facilities. This large black bear is one of multiple bears identified by the public last year as “Hank the Tank” based on visual observations.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has the authority to approve only one such placement and is using that authorization for this bear. Relocation is not typically an option for conflict animals over concern that relocating an animal will relocate the conflict behavior to a different community. However, given the widespread interest in this bear, and the significant risk of a serious incident involving the bear, CDFW is employing an alternative solution to safeguard the bear family as well as the people in the South Lake Tahoe Community.

A large conflict black bear in the Lake Tahoe Basin captured by CDFW on Aug. 4, 2023.
CDFW file photo of conflict black bear 64F.

The sow's three young cubs, which have accompanied the bear on recent home break-ins, will potentially be relocated to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, a CDFW-permitted wildlife rehabilitation facility in Petaluma in hopes they can discontinue the negative behaviors they learned from the sow and can be returned to the wild. All three cubs were given a health assessment in the field before transfer and will receive additional examination at the facility. One of the cubs is believed to have suffered serious injuries from a vehicle strike earlier this month, though is still mobile. The injured cub will be given a thorough veterinary evaluation.

Bear 64F has been monitored closely by CDFW since 2022. In March of 2023, she was discovered denning under a residence in South Lake Tahoe along with her three male cubs of the year. Staff from CDFW and the Nevada Department of Wildlife immobilized the bear, collected DNA evidence, attached an ear tag and affixed a satellite tracking collar to the bear. Staff also implanted Passive Integrated Transponders, known as PIT tags, into the cubs for future identification. The PIT tags contain a microchip similar to what’s implanted into pet dogs and cats for identification.

Bear 64F shed the satellite tracking collar last May. The bear’s DNA, however, has been confirmed at 21 home invasions in the South Lake Tahoe area between February 2022 and May 2023 with the bear suspected in additional break-ins and property damage.

CDFW’s updated Black Bear Policy (PDF), released in February 2022, allows for the placement and relocation of conflict bears in limited circumstances when other management options have been exhausted and as an alternative to lethal actions.

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 212-7352

Categories: Human Wildlife Conflict, Rehabilitation, South Lake Tahoe
  • November 22, 2022
Image of ill hairless black bear at zoo

Facing a host of challenging medical ailments and a less-than-hopeful prognosis, an approximately 10-month-old male black bear from South Lake Tahoe was humanely euthanized on Monday at the Oakland Zoo where he was receiving treatment. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) veterinary team remained in close contact with the Oakland Zoo’s veterinary team, and after considering treatments and likely outcomes agreed that the cub was unlikely to have a good quality of life even if treatments were successful.

“This poor cub had a whole host of medical issues,” said CDFW Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Brandon Munk. “He was never going to be a normal bear again and would have required lifelong medical care in captivity. We didn’t want a poor quality of life for the bear and undue strain on any zoo or sanctuary caring for him.”

The severely underweight bear was brought to CDFW earlier this month after he was found in a public area of South Lake Tahoe. The bear was suffering from significant pneumonia, a broken foot with an infection that was likely spreading to surrounding bones, a dislocated wrist, severe hair loss and skin ulceration caused by fungal and bacterial infections, gastrointestinal parasites, an ear infection and an umbilical hernia.

CDFW received the bear on Nov. 10, did an assessment and on Nov. 11 transferred the bear to Oakland Zoo’s world-class veterinary medical facility. The zoo’s veterinarians were successful in relieving the bear’s pain and discomfort and stabilizing his condition. However, the bear’s condition worsened despite treatment. If veterinarians would have continued treatment, the bear would have required round-the-clock sedation, as well as potentially placing him on a ventilator.

“The fact that he had worsened, despite treatment, and would have required the highest level of invasive care, were the biggest deciding factors for euthanasia,” said Oakland Zoo Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ryan Sadler. “The potential for this bear to have a good life under human care, even with significant veterinary intervention, was very low. We didn’t want to see him undergo months of stress and painful treatment only to be left with conditions that would cause discomfort throughout his life.”

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Media Contact:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications: Ken.Paglia@wildlife.ca.gov

Categories: Rehabilitation, South Lake Tahoe

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