Bear cub badly burned in wildfire recovering at California wildlife center

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A bear cub badly burned in California’s growing Tamarack Fire is recovering at a wildlife center in Lake Tahoe.

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A Markleeville homeowner contacted Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care on Sunday night after returning from an evacuation and finding the singed baby bear in the backyard, the Los Angeles Times reported, noting the cub’s paws were “so badly burned that he tried to hobble away from his rescuers by walking on his elbows.”

Denise Upton, the center’s animal care director, told the Tahoe Daily Tribune that the cub, whom rescuers located under the homeowner’s deck and tranquilized, also attempted to climb a tree to evade capture, but his wounds would not allow it.

“It takes a little while before the tranquilizer sets in, and they don’t want to be messed with,” Upton said, explaining the cub’s evasive actions.

The cub, whom center staff have fittingly dubbed “Tamarack,” required painkillers and the bandaging of all four paws, but he appears to be responding well to treatment. In fact, a video posted to the center’s Facebook page showed the cub resting next to a large pillow and stuffed teddy bear.

“He came to us underweight ... and was dehydrated, but other than that, he was in pretty good condition,” Upton told the newspaper.

Tamarack, who weighs about 21 pounds, is believed to be around six months old. Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care will likely keep the bear through winter and release him in the spring, Upton said.

According to the Times, the center team began grafting Tamarack’s burns with tilapia skins on Tuesday, an “innovative procedure that allows for a quicker healing process.”

The Tamarack fire has scorched more than 68,000 Alpine County acres during the past 22 days but was 54% contained Tuesday, the Times reported.

Click here to donate to Tamarack’s recovery fund.