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‘Tough’ bear cub that survived California’s Tamarack wildfire has now escaped wildlife rehab

The Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care said a young, black bear named Tamarack has answered the call of the wild, but still needs medical care

A bear cub that was taken in for treatment to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care after it suffered burns in a California wildfire.
This July 31, 2021, file photo provided by Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, shows a bear cub that was taken in for treatment to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., after it suffered burns in a California wildfire. Wildlife officials are asking for the public’s help in locating the bear cub that escaped from the animal rescue center where he was being treated. The 6-month-old black bear nicknamed “Tamarack” after the fire that burned his paws, escaped his enclosure and managed to tunnel under an electric fence at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, the center said in a statement on Tuesday, Aug. 3.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care via Associated Press

A young bear cub that narrowly escaped a massive California wildfire last month has now fled the wildlife rescuers that were caring for its wounded paws.

Using bandaged limbs, a 25-pound black bear cub named Tamarack has escaped the wildlife rehabilitation center that had been treating him since July 25, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Tamarack was named after the wildfire that burned more 68,000 acres in California’s Mokelumne Wilderness, south of Lake Tahoe, this summer.

On Tuesday, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care posted a “COMMUNITY ALERT” on Instagram that Tamarack had fled the facility by digging an escape tunnel under an electric fence.

“He got out of the room and into the outdoor area and basically found a 6-inch-square of dirt that he dug into and squished himself out of the fence — all with burned paws and bandages,” Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care board member and spokesman Greg Erfani told The Los Angeles Times.

  • Videos posted to the wildlife rehab’s Instagram page show LTWC staff cleaning and bandaging Tamarack’s paws. “The wounds are progressing as expected & we are optimistic about his recovery!,” LTCW wrote a post last week.
  • “He’s tough. He’s got burned paws and he did all this, so his desire to be free was greater than the cage we had him in,” said Erfani of bear cub. “This is wildlife. It wants to be wild even at his own peril.”

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Center said Tamarack “is not in immediate danger and is not a threat, but we need to locate him as soon as possible.” They had planned to release the 6-month-old cub back into the wild later this winter or next spring, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Californians in the Black Bart, Heavenly Valley and the Sierra Tract areas of Lake Tahoe’s south shore are asked to be on the lookout for the cub, but not approach the brown-furred little bear as he is scared of humans, LTWC said in their community alert.

  • “He is likely to be active in the evening and nighttime hours, so please slow down when driving and make sure your dogs are not unaccompanied,” LTWC wrote, and that Tamarack is probably hiding in a small space or tree.
  • A hotline has been setup for residence call if they think they may have spotted the cub. The wildlife rehab asked that resident spot the cub to call (530) 577-2273.

“We need your help, hearts and eyes to locate him quickly so he can be returned to get the medical care he needs,” the wildlife health care workers said.