Orphaned bear cub escapes California wildlife center

California wildlife officials are asking for the public’s help in their search for a timid, orphaned young black bear who escaped its enclosure at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

The bear, who is between 12 and 13 months old, escaped its outdoor play enclosure on Feb. 9 at about 5:30 p.m., authorities said.

Lake Tahoe authorities said the 50-pound animal “is not in imminent danger and is not a threat” but may be too young to survive on its own for an extended amount of time in the current wintry conditions in the area.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care said the bear has enough survival skills and “plenty of stored energy to last him a good while in the wild.” 

LTWC has asked people in the area to keep a lookout for the shy cub — who can be identified by a metal tag on his right ear — but urged them not to go actively searching for the bear or to approach it.

The “skittish” bear escaped from the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Center last week.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The outdoor bear enclosure at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care center
The outdoor enclosure at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

“The bear dislikes people and can be extremely skittish,” LTWC said.

The wildlife center said they believe the bear “has found a hiding place and will stay hidden until he gets hungry.”

“His personality at LTWC was one of a hider. He spent most of his time solo inside his den area,” the center said.

The bear was severely underweight at just over 20 pounds when he was rescued in Seiad Valley in Siskiyou County on Dec. 13, 2022. 

An examination at the California Department of Fish and Wildelife’s Wildlife Health Lab found the bear to be otherwise in good condition. The cub was then moved to LTWC to be rehabilitated before he was to be released back into the wild.

Since it arrived at LTWC two months ago the bear put on 30 pounds, the center said.

CDFW is looking for the bear and investigating how he was able to escape.