Three bear cubs that were captured with their mother in South Lake Tahoe this summer are progressing toward re-release into the wild.
The cubs’ mother, called 64F based on her DNA being the 64th unique female bear DNA entered into the CDFW wildlife forensic database, is known for breaking into at least 21 homes and causing property damage in the South Lake Tahoe area. The sow is also one of multiple bears identified by the public last year as “Hank the Tank.” She was safely immobilized in early August and taken to a wildlife facility near Springfield, Colorado, for permanent placement. The cubs, at least one of which accompanied her on break-ins, are being rehabilitated at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue near Petaluma.
The three male cubs, who were separated from 64F because she is not a candidate for rehabilitation while they may still be released to the wild, are now about 8-months-old and were recently given a clean bill of health by veterinarians.
“All three bears looked good,” said Dr. Brandon Munk, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) senior wildlife veterinarian. “We did a physical exam and baseline blood work for each. We gave them minor therapeutics to knock down internal and external parasite loads.”
One of the cubs has been recovering from injuries suffered while in the wild. The cub had a fractured hind foot and an associated wound from being struck by a vehicle. It also had an injury from an air rifle pellet.
“The fractures are healing, and the wound is almost healed. The cub is moving normally with no limp. All indications are that he’s doing fine,” said Munk.
The cubs’ rehabilitation protocol at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue includes reinforcement of foraging skills which they’ll need in the wild. For example, staff at the facility have placed logs, rocks, branches and other structures in the enclosure to provide the bears with climbing and balancing practice. Staff have also been burying and hiding food to allow the cubs to practice foraging.
“We all want to give these cubs the best chance at living a life in the wild,” said Munk.
If the cubs’ rehabilitation progresses as planned, they will be re-released into the wild in spring 2024.
Hank the Tank’s cubs raised in captivity at Sonoma County facility
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications: Peter.Tira@Wildlife.ca.gov