The two high profile bear cubs in Mammoth Lakes who lost their mother to a car accident in September have apparently died. Fish and Game refused to rescue them, saying they were strong enough to survive the winter alone. Mammoth Wildlife Specialist Steve Searls and Mammoth Police Officers said the cubs were still suckling from their mother and, in their experience, would not live without rescue.
When asked about the cubs, Searles said he has not seen them in the last 14 days and knows their exact home range very well. Said Searles, “There have been no sitings. I believe they are both dead two weeks after Fish and Game examined them.”
Fish and Game had refused to allow the rescue of the cubs after their mother was killed. Tahoe Bear Rescue was ready to take them. Fish and Game said, no. Then Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Tim Taylor went to Mammoth with Warden Chad Elliot to assess the cubs. Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson said they determined the cubs were over 30 pounds and in their “professional opinion could survive the winter.”
Fish and Game code does say that suckling cubs should be rescued. Since local Fish and Game refused to speak to us, Sierra Wave Media asked Andrew Hughan of Sacramento Fish and Game why the local men seemed to have overlooked the fact that the cubs were still nursing from their mother. Both Searles and police said they saw the mother’s body and that it was clear the cubs were still suckling.
Hughan said that the game warden and his Lieutenant “observed the bears and determined that they met all the qualifications of the policy and were left alone to survive.” Hughan said Searles is a private citizen with no position in Fish and Game. Searles had estimated the cubs were more like 20 pounds with no skills to feed themselves.
Hughan said, “We do not make these decisions lightly. If the wardens thought that the cubs were in danger they could have taken different actions.”