Fish and Game rules that cubs will not be rescued

One of the surviving bear cubs photographed by Gene Stephan of Rough and Ready.

As we have reported, over the weekend a mother bear was killed in traffic in Mammoth Lakes. She left two cubs. The lives and fates of those animals has made news this week. Local bear experts say the cubs will die if not rescued. A Fish and Game wildlife biologist has ruled that they can survive and will not be rescued.

Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson confirmed that Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Tim Taylor and Warden Chad Elliott drove to Mammoth Lakes Monday afternoon to assess the cubs. Chief Watson said Taylor met with him, an officer and Mammoth Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles where the cubs were up in a tree. Chief Watson said Taylor studied the cubs and determined they were over 30 pounds and in his “professional opinion could survive the winter.”

Chief Watson said it was Taylor’s call. The Chief said, “That doesn’t mean I don’t respect the opinion of Officer Luke Schwartzkopf and Steve Searles. Fish and Game makes the final decision. I hope it’s the right one,” said Watson.

Both Schwartzkopf and Searles, who dealt with the orphaned cubs and hundreds of bears in Mammoth, stated that in their experience with bears in town these two babies will not survive the winter. Both of these men had pointed to the fact that the cubs were still suckling from their mother when she died. Although Fish and Game policy indicates that after August 1 cubs dependent on sows should be picked up and rescued, Taylor ruled that the cubs could survive.

Asked about the suckling issue, Chief Watson said he mentioned that to Taylor who claimed the cubs were also eating natural foods. Chief Watson said, “It’s their call. I appreciate the fact that a wildlife biologist evaluated them.”

Informed sources have said that Fish and Game relies on data from studies that say fist year cubs can survive the winter. It is believed the studies were not done in Mammoth Lakes or Tahoe at elevations of 8500 feet with severe winters. Fish and Game policy also discusses dealing with these issues on a case by case basis. In this case, food is scacre, it’s a drought, the cubs’ mother was lactating and the orphaned cubs are small.

Searles had arranged for the cubs to go to Tahoe Bear Rescue, but due to the Fish and Game decision that will not happen. While Sacramento Fish and Game has talked to us, they are not on scene and local Fish and Game has refused to speak to media. In fact, on scene the day of the bear cub incident, the warden refused to talk to media on scene.


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35 Responses to Fish and Game rules that cubs will not be rescued

  1. Dingo September 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Fish and Game give educated people a bad name.

    • Common Sense September 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

      Where is you wildlife managment degree from?

      • In the know September 24, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

        No degree needed if you know anything about Bruce Kenny and his Mini Me Tim Taylor.

        If they had nothing to hide, they would talk to the press. They are afraid they will be asked tough and well researched questions by Bennet who will consult with outside experts prior to speaking with them.

        They do what guilty people do. They hide out, refuse to talk to the press who represent the public, and they know if they wait long enough, it will all go away.

        How about Benett moderate a public debate on the issue between Steve Searles and Tim Taylor? Taylor would not do well.

      • Dingo September 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

        Ah ha!

  2. Mammoth Knows September 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Once DFG states a position the facts don’t matter. A Black Bear study in the southern United States where it does not snow in the winte,r has little to do with what happens in Mammoth Lakes.

  3. Practical Skeptic September 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    I would like to hear a second opinion, from and independent bear researcher from out of the area, that does not have an agenda.

  4. Don September 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Can a knowlegable and conserned Mammoth person contact the Lake Tahoe Bear League? (530) 525-7297. Prehaps they may be helpful…

  5. Wooly Mammoth September 24, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    Federal retards.

    • JeanGenie September 25, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      No, sorry Wooly, State of California retards. Federal is US Fish and Wildlife Service.

  6. Big AL September 24, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    This was a good article, glad to see more info … Chief Watson pretty much hit it on the head .. DFG has the last say .. even though he may feel it isn’t the right decision, but it’s not his to make. That last part was speculative on my part, but I think I might have it right.

    I think this is just the way it will be, it could be, that they can survive, maybe not?

    Personally i think the case by case approach should have been taken, with the bears being taken to a facility to look after them, given the conditions these two cubs face.

    Obviously DFG did look at it and give an finding based on professional opinion.

    I think something will change though … just hope they can hold out until it does.

  7. Roy September 25, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Having spent 30 years in law enforcement, dept. policies are a guideline, they should not be set in stone. Sometimes there are circumstances where the problem is better resolved by bending the rules for the benefit of all involved….I fee that in this case regarding the bear cubs maybe not following the set in stone policy would have been better for the survival of the bear cubs.

  8. Brandon September 25, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    Maybe we should use this incident as a learning event for the future. We can work towards ensuring there are proper wildlife corridors to ensure that wildlife are not put into these situations. However, i do not feel that DFG has a vendetta towards these two black bears or any other animal who they protect and serve, I believe that they are acting on the protocols and scientific evidence as they see it. If the cubs make it, awesome, if they succumb, lesson learned. Nature is not always pretty, and although the situation was not a natural one in the beginning, at some point we need to step back and allow nature to reclaim its balance.

  9. Citizen-Mammoth Lakes September 25, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    You can educate people and do studies…but how do you teach common sense? I agree with Practical Skeptic, we need a second opinion.

  10. yOGI D bEAR September 25, 2012 at 10:37 am #


  11. Concerned Citizen September 25, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Fish and Game continue their reputation of never willing to help or care for wildlife, worst of all is knowing there was an alternative for these 2 bear cubs, but like usual F&G chosed to take the easy way out….makes me sick!

  12. Ellie Heston September 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    I think a great opportunity to educate the public was missed here … And a chance for some good PR for Fish and Wildlife. Educating the public on what officials CAN do can never be a bad thing and would have ensured the proper rehab and survival of these 2 cubs – especially this close to winter.

    • Big AL September 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      Yes a good opportunity was lost .. I feel too Ellie.

  13. friend September 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    at least tag the animals with monitoring devices in case they are under duress, starving or homeless. you can take the monitors off later. help our bears

    • Mammothite September 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      Searles can find the cubs anytime he wants without any radio collars. I hope he will film their slow demise to fully expose DFG and especially their college boy “expert” Tim Taylor.

      • Big AL September 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

        Nice one mammothite … way to be positive. Or .. express things positively, I should say.

        • Mammothite September 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

          Nothing wrong with exposing the truth Big Al.

    • SierraFan September 26, 2012 at 11:57 am #

      The whole problem here is that it seems as though DFG just see’s the bears as numbers! My guess is that they just think if they make it then great! If not, it’s part of life. They really don’t want the expense of taking care of every injured or orphaned wild life which is a complete shame in this case where they had the bears in sight! Horrible!!

  14. upthecreek September 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    @CC “Fish and Game continue their reputation of never willing to help or care”

    Just ask them about their Pensions.. They sure “care” about those and “help” themselves to the Taxpayers Money.


  15. Big AL September 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    upthecreek .. there goes that broken record again.

    • upthecreek September 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

      Until everyone knows the scam that the government has pulled on the sheeple/TAXPAYERS, You will continue to here it over and over again.

      thanks for caring BIG AL


      • Big AL September 26, 2012 at 8:12 am #

        You’re welcome, that feels good coming from a fellow sheeple. hehe

    • SierraFan September 26, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      For once.. I actually agree with Up the creek. LOL

  16. Nelly September 26, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    I trust Steve’s opinion over any so called wildlfe specialist with the DFG .. Steve has the bear’s best interest at heart . I’m sure many of us remember the DFG member who went on the big cat hunt out of state proof in the pudding care is not #1.
    I sure hope we don’t hear of a tragic death of two bear cubs due to starvation or being put down for being problem bears..

  17. judy mitchell September 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    i hope he starves to death and the coyotes eat his sorry ass!

  18. Sandra Williston September 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    In cases like this when a decision is made that defies fundamental reasoning, the absence of even a shred of logic, and creates the unnecessary chance of death, a decision tag-teamed by Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson; Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Tim Taylor and Warden Chad Elliott, it is clear that such a decision is based in the feeding of and preserving of their own egos!

    Refusing to allow the cubs 100% chance of survival over the winter and instead opting for a crap shoot is unconscionable. Both, Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles and Schwartzkopf, WHO HAVE dealt with the orphaned cubs and hundreds of bears in Mammoth, absolutely should be listened to! Their experience with bears trumps a few minutes of “assessment” by looking up a tree for god sake!

    They say that the cubs will not survive the winter, being as they were still suckling from their mother when she died. THE CUBS ARE BABIES!!!! WHY is the Fish and Game policy that states that after August 1st. cubs dependent on sows should be picked up and rescued, being ignored??? Why would Chief Watson even intervene in this being as the Wildlife policy provided an answer as to what was to be done??? Why would Taylor give an opinion that flies in the face of the policy????

    EGO… EGO… EGO… EGO is the reason!!!

    Please… someone from Mammoth initiate a petition on to petition whatever higher powers are in place (the Governor etc.?) to overturn this cruel and reckless decision! Food is scarce and the orphaned cubs are small babies!!! Why chance their survival when a solution to ensure 100% success is readily available??


  19. bapanaud September 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    These cubs will not know how to build a winter nest to hibernate in, as they did not have their mother to show them, and they do not yet know to pick a nesting place near a tree with rough bark, so in an emergency, they can escape up the tree. I feel these poor two cubs will not make it this winter:( Probably a money issue that made the decision, like everything else in this world! Such heartless people making the decisions!

    • Big AL October 2, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      bapanaud, You might be right about their lack of knowledge, but sometimes they can surprise you. These people are not heartless I don’t think .. for one, they have to have some feelings of care for the animals, otherwise they would be doing some other line of work.

  20. Christine October 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    The wildlife biologist, Tim Taylor, has a voicemail at 760-932-5749. Please call and leave him a message that these cubs need to spend the winter at Tahoe Bear Rescue to assure their survival until spring. The Department has a responsibility to ensure humane treatment of wildlife – at 8500 feet, their death will not be humane, it will be slow starvation and dehydration – anything but humane. They may as well shoot them now. Letting nature takes its course is an antiquated, cruel attitude that needs to be protested. His voicemail says he’s out of town til the 7th so if you’re nervous about a direct conversation, you’ll only be leaving a message so go for it. Let’s help these 2 babies.

    • Big AL October 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

      That’s cool Christine, but the basic mission for the department is to protect the state’s wild resources. As I have stated before , it might be hard to see for some, but a part of that mission is not intervening in natures course. inhumane doesn’t really apply here, in this case.

      Yes it seems inhumane, but in nature, things such as this go on. Yes … it was unnaturally altered with man being involved. But … that still does not change nature taking it’s course in these two bear cub’s lives.

      I would like to see them make it, I think maybe we should have done something. At first hearing this story and all the comment. I was like .. take them and get them somewhere where they will survive. But in taking a step back to understand the situation more .. even though I am still pro care for the cubs, I can see the department’s views on it more clearly. Let them make it as they would if the mother had been killed by a lion or from being sick.

      Now you probably can’t embrace that way of thinking, and I understand why, but it really isn’t being inhumane to them, it is just that you want to save them. I can see the reality of the situation from a different side than you do, just how I see it, and how you see it.

      Calling the biologist is a good idea, but be civil about it. At the same time .. I think we can look at this from a few steps back and see more of the picture … zoom out some for a wider view.

  21. Christine October 4, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    I’m not sure why you feel the need to take a step back so that you can rationalize doing nothing more easily. You’re not seeing anything I don’t see. You’re just choosing not to feel anything about these 2 cubs. It IS important that the mother was killed by a vehicle – the human impact on their lives is one of the important criteria Fish and Game uses to intervene. She wasn’t killed by natural enemies, and only a very small percentage of bear sows die that way. What is your point?! Why twist your head around – and try to twist others’ heads around – just to rationalize inaction, when there is a facility willing to take these very young bears in, bears who were still suckling and clearly won’t survive the winter. Yes, keeping things as humane as possible for wildlife is part of what the State uses our tax money to do. So what that theoretically there could be 2 other cubs, whose mother was killed by natural predators, and we didn’t find them, and they had to try to survive on their own – that is totally irrelevant to this situation! We did find these and we can help them, and we should. Period. Even bringing up “letting nature take its course” just displays a cold curiosity about what will happen if we do nothing – while your cold curiosity is being satisfied, these two little bears will be painfully dying a slow death. There is no justification for toying with their lives. Every life matters and when it is so easy for us to save them, we have to look at what the hell is wrong with us that we aren’t making this happen. If wildlife managers are only thinking about bear statistics, that bear populations have grown in recent decades, that over 300 bears have been killed by hunters already this year, etc etc, they are using the wrong side of their brains to think about this. It is not about “we have so many bears, we don’t need more”, it is only about these 2 little bears, who deserve our help, which takes no skin off our backs to achieve. It is simply cruel to leave them out there – even now there’s nothing to eat out there, there’s a drought, very few berries around, and they don’t even know they should eat those, or the moths bears go up high to get, or anything else bears eat – they were living mostly off their mother’s milk. This is not a time to intellectualize.


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