Young Bear Cub Safe, But Where Did She Come From?

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A young bear cub emerges from a portable kennel at a South Lake Tahoe animal sanctuary. She'll spend the next half hour being bottle fed and roaming about the room.

They don't give names to the animals here since that implies ownership and their goal is returning them to the wild, but her name for the moment is Tahoe.

She's about 10 weeks old and just over 5 pounds. She is obviously teddy-bear cute, still a little wobbly on her legs, curious about the world around her the moment fascinated by our camera.

That's about all we know of her young life other than she has already seen tragedy and is very lucky to be in the care of Cheryl and Tom Millham at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

She should not be here, of course.

She should be with her mother being nursed and getting her first lessons of life in the wild.

Instead she's being fed, like any infant, on a strict schedule, special formula every four hours.

This next chapter of her life is going well.

"Other than being a little dehydrated she's in pretty good shape," says Tom Millham, who with his wife, Cheryl runs the place.

The little bear is getting the care she needs. The mystery is where she came from.

She was dropped off miles away in Homewood, at the home of Ann Bryant of the Bear League, left in a kennel in her driveway.

"You come out in the morning and there's a baby in a basket. Only it's a furry baby not a human baby," says Bryant.

An experienced bear advocate Bryant immediately called the Millhams.
They've taken charge of her and it's likely they'll have her for the next nine to 10 months.

The fact that she's not with her mother tells us something. Mama bears rarely abandon their cubs.

So, she's almost certainly dead of an accident, possibly poaching. But where? It turns out that's an important question.

For one thing bears often have more than one cub. There could be more out there. If they're alone they won't be doing well for long.

Then there's the rules. For a variety of reasons, wildlife officials want rescued animals returned to the general area where they came from.

"That's the one thing Fish and Wildlife wants to know," says Millham, adding that it can be within a 75 mile radius.

It's a little early for cubs to be emerging from the den here in the Tahoe Basin. The thinking is she must have come from somewhere else, a lower warmer elevation.

Wildlife officials have been known to tell people reporting abandoned animals it's against the law to remove them and they should just let nature take its course.

Bryant says it's likely whoever found Tahoe just couldn't bring themselves to do that and knew where the little cub would find safe harbor.

"There's no human being I know who would stand by and watch an infant cry themselves to death. They're going to step in and do something."

"We're hoping somebody will call and say 'Hey, I'm the one who brought her in', says Millham. "We're not going to ask any questions."

So they're urging anyone who knows where she came from to call and tell what they know, remaining anonymous. No repercussions.

The little cub is unaware of all these issues, of course. Her job at the moment is simply to eat, get strong, learn about the world around her.

People like the Millhams and Ann Bryant will take care of the rest.

Note: If you have any information about this cub or simply want to know more about either organizations, here is the contact info:

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care (530) 577-2273
Bear League (530) 525-7297