A group of Truckee residents and officials worked together Thursday to rescue a 6-month-old male bear cub that suffered a broken leg after being hit by a car.
According to the Truckee Police Department, several residents recently reported the cub in various Truckee neighborhoods, and it was found in a tree Thursday on Martis Drive, off Estates Drive.
Dave Baker of the Truckee Bear League climbed about 50 to 60 feet to rescue the cub and lower it to the ground, where it was placed in a crate with help from a TPD sergeant and community service officer.
“We worked really well together,” Baker said Friday. “We’ve been doing this kind of stuff for many years, and we’ve really honed our skills. Everybody knows what to do.”
The 39-pound bear, which was hit by a car a week and a half ago on Highway 267, was taken to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in South Lake Tahoe, where it underwent surgery Friday morning for two broken bones.
The cub was out of surgery shortly after noon Friday, said Ann Bryant, executive director of the Homewood-based BEAR League.
“Now he’s in a cast. The big thing now is will he leave the cast alone? If he does, he’s going to be just fine,” Bryant said. “If he doesn’t, then we’ll have to figure out what Plan B is going to be.”
Bryant praised Truckee residents, police and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for working together to save the bruin.
“This is a clear case that we can accomplish more together than we can pitting ourselves against each other,” Bryant said. “It’s such a happy story all the way around, and we were thrilled to be a part of it and part of such tremendous cooperation.”
The timing couldn’t have been better, either. At 39 pounds, the bear is about average size, Bryant said, but he was beginning to fade.
“We weren’t sure there was anything that could be done — it was evident it was a young one, and his mother had left him and he couldn’t keep up,” Bryant said. “Losing his mom made it very difficult for him to forage and find enough calories, and he would have just gotten weaker.”
Tom Millham and his wife, Cheryl, run Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care — a nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to returning injured and orphaned animals to the wild. Over the past 34 years, they’ve rescued 24,000 animals and released 14,000.
The couple has seen about 50 bears come through the facility in the past 13 years, and has released 100 percent of them. For more information, visit www.ltwc.org.
Residents who see bears in need of help or to be scared away can call Baker with the Truckee Bear League at 530-587-1374. At Lake Tahoe, residents can call the nonprofit BEAR League at 530-525-7297. For more information, visit www.savebears.org.