SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) – Two orphaned bear cubs mysteriously died within just a few weeks of one another at a rehabilitation center, stunning their caretakers.
“It’s hard, it’s very hard,” said Tom Millham Thursday afternoon.
Millham and his wife Cheryl opened Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care 40 years ago.
Among many other wild animals, the facility has a cozy den for the cubs who would otherwise be on their own. They get the best of care, but have limited contact with humans to ensure one day they can roam free.
“Every bird and animal that comes through Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care has one goal, and that’s to be released back into the wild,” Millham said.
In the 17 years the Millhams and volunteers have cared for cubs, all 96 have returned to the forest until now.
The cub Nevada was the first to pass after suffering a seizure. Veterinarians couldn’t figure out why. Then Filmore grew sick and died.
“To have us lose one and then lose a second one two weeks later, we are just beside herself. We just didn’t know what to do,” he said.
A local vet found both cubs were infected with the Adeno virus which is primarily linked to dogs, which is why they’re in quarantine.
“The fact that we’ve never had a situation like this, maybe we’ve been lucky, but maybe we’ve been doing things right and something happened this year. I don’t know if we will ever know exactly how it came in,” he added.
Millham said the four remaining cubs also tested positive for the virus, but aren’t showing any signs of illness.
“The fact that it hasn’t affected them yet is a good thing,” he said.
He can’t imagine losing another and is taking every step to make sure these cubs make it back to the great outdoors.
“Unless something comes back negative, the plan is that they’ll be released sometime late January or early February,” Millham said.
You can follow the cubs’ adventures online for free.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care runs off donations, so if you’d like to help donate or just watch, visit http://www.ltwc.org/.