RENO, NV - The life of the 30-pound cub now known as Pink 18 took a tragic turn Halloween night.
His mother, seeking food, had ventured with her brood into Verdi. She and one cub were killed by a car.
When her body was found the next morning, another cub was clinging to her body. He ran when approached, but the bond between the two may yet save his life.
Using her body to lure him, the Department of Wildlife captured him Sunday.
Today he's at Animal Ark north of Reno, but he won't be a permanent resident. He's being kept from any contact with people by design.
"We don't want them domesticated or semi-domesticated," says Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy. "We want them to remain wild and the folks at Animal Ark have the skills to help us do that."
He's being fed at Animal Ark and sometime, probably in December, he'll begin to hibernate.
Later this winter he'll be tranquilized and transported to some remote location in the Sierra, placed in an artificial den, to await spring and a life on his own.
"We've had a lot of success doing this," says Healy, "and so we're confident it will work."
The bodies of his mother and sibling have been disposed, but the trap remains in Verdi for the moment bearing her scent. There's some reason to believe there's a third cub out there and if so, NDOW wants to give him the same chance.
Meanwhile, the surviving cub is sitting in a pen at Animal Ark. He's been tagged (Pink 18) and microchipped, but if all goes well this will be his last encounter with our world.
"In the past we've said it's a 50-50 proposition, but we've probably seen a higher survival rate than that, but it's better than the alternative, which is zero."
"We're ready to take the chance and do this because I think everybody supports the expenditure of Department of Wildlife resources to do something like this because the alternative is someone no one wants to see."