Bear Cub Rescued from Tamarack Wildfire after Found Walking on Elbows Due to Severe Burns

by Jon D. B.

Take heart, Outsiders: this little bear cub‘s tale, at least, will have a happy ending after the devastation of California’s Tamarack Wildfires.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care’s staff are doing everything they can to help local wildlife amidst Tamarack’s wake. This week, they’ve taken in their first bear of the season – a black bear cub who’s sustained tragic injuries from the raging wildfire.

On Sunday, July 25, LTWC took a call from a Lake Tahoe homeowner who was just returning to their property in Markleeville. All residents had been previously evacuated, but upon coming back the family found a bear cub in their backyard. They made the call to LTWC around 7:30 p.m. that evening after noticing the cub was walking on its elbows due to extensive burns on its four paws.

After calling incident command for access to the closed-off area, LTWC immediately came to the cub’s rescue. They would find the little one under the Markleeville family’s deck, where they tranquilized him.

It would be a bit of a struggle to secure the bear cub for transport, however. Even after tranquilization, the little one was in no hurry to take up with humans – typically a good sign of a healthy bear. Yet this cub wasn’t healthy due to the Tamarack Wildfires. Wildlife rescuers say his burns kept him from climbing a tree – a usual means of escape for black bears.

“He tried to get away, it takes a little while before the tranquilizer sets in and they don’t want to be messed with,” LTWC’s Animal Care Director, Denise Upton, tells local Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Half-Year Old Bear Cub Takes on Name of Wildfire that Spared Him

It may seem a bit harsh at first, but LTWC has taken to calling the little one Tamarack after the wildfire that spared him. Now, he can wear it like a badge of survival.

Once in their care, Tamarack received pain killers and ointments for his burns. The team then wrapped his paws to help with healing and managing pain.

Director Upton says Monday that her team will work with UC Davis to secure the “tilapia skin treatment” – a medical practice that will drastically speed up the healing of Tamarack’s paws. We Outsiders sincerely hope they can do so, as this little bear cub will need all the help he can get.

“He came to us underweight, he weighs 21 pounds and was dehydrated,” Upton adds. “But other than that, he was in pretty good condition.”

LTWC estimates Tamarack is a five, maybe six months old bear cub. By his age, he should weigh at least 30+ pounds – so he’s got some healing and eating on the horizon.

Thankfully, Upton believes it will be easy to get Tamarack up to weight. He’s otherwise healthy outside of his burns. Currently, the plan is to keep him throughout winter to give him a chance to recuperate. Then, if the California Department of Fish and Wildlife OKs it, he’ll rejoin other wild Lake Tahoe bears come Spring 2022.

If you want to help little Tamarack, LTWC is currently asking for donations to help care for him at:

Best of luck, little one!