SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — He was badly burned, but he’s a wildfire survivor.
Rescuers said there’s finally been a possible sighting of the injured bear cub known as Tamarack, who was being treated for wildfire burns but escaped his enclosure in South Lake Tahoe earlier this month.READ MORE: Amber Alert: Children Abducted By Father In Riverside County, Possibly Near Modesto
However, state wildlife authorities are refusing to capture and treat the bear again, sparking backlash from rescuers.
“The consensus was that it was 70-90 percent sure it was Tamarack,” said Ann Bryant with the BEAR League, a rescue group that helped track down Tamarack over the weekend. “The bear was way up in the tree not wanting to come down.”
Bryant said teams of trackers with infrared cameras and heat sensors had been following Tamarack, which is why when the Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to this latest sighting and declined to capture and treat Tamarack, there was concern.
“It was a punch in the stomach. It was a kick in the face,” Bryant said…”Now we’re still wondering, is he OK? Is he going to make it?”
A spokesperson for the Department of Fish and Wildlife said that after assessing Tamarack’s situation, “It was behaving as a wild and healthy bear should with no clear sign of injury.”
They said letting him go is the right thing to do.READ MORE: Sacramento Police Say Thieves Target Women Along Stockton Boulevard In Broad Daylight
“If it would have been our choice, we would have like to have safely caught him, had him looked at and the vets and the Department of Wildlife and determined, yeah, he looks great,” Bryant said.
State authorities also say this about Tamarack, that, “although only about eight months old, black bear cubs have been shown in scientific literature to survive in the wild without their mother at this age and younger.”
Rescuers said there’s an exciting development on that front. Tamarack is living near a mama bear and her cubs who seem to be taking him in.
“It appears he is being tolerated, if not welcomed, into her family,” Bryant said.
Concerned citizens are also watching Tamarack closely via trail cameras to make sure he’s OK.
“If he’s surviving on his own, which is the goal of all bears, we need to honor that,” Bryant said.MORE NEWS: 2 Now-Former Stockton Police Officers Charged In Beating During Arrest Of Teen