Bear + Human Contact = Dead Bear
When an American black bear comes into contact with humans, the ending is often predictable. The bear is euthanized.
In a local encounter on Thursday, August 6, when an 18-month-old male bear was thought to be intoxicated on rotting fruit and found wandering in close proximity to Highway 198, he was taken into custody by Daniel Torres, California Fish and Wildlife warden. At that time, there was hope that this youngster would be treated and released back into the wild. Bear update: No happy
A couple of decades ago, California had a well-funded wildlife rehabilitation program and more effort was devoted to release. There was even a bear retraining program in Lancaster, Calif., where human-habituated bears were reconditioned and returned to the wild.
At the time of the 2008 recession, those programs were cut or eliminated altogether. Now, any bear older than a cub and weighing more than 50 pounds that has a human encounter worth reporting is, more often that not, euthanized. There is no state facility or private sanctuary that takes them.
Since the latest Three Rivers bear had no history of human contact, there was a chance he could survive. On Thursday, August 6, he spent the night at the state Fish and Wildlife facility below Terminus Dam. The next morning he was transported to a larger lab facility in Madera.
“The young bear in Three Rivers who was accused of being inebriated was actually suffering from neurological disorders of unknown cause,” Stephanie McNulty, spokesperson for the CFW’s Fresno office, reported. “When he arrived at the Wildlife Investigations Lab, he was immediately treated for dehydration and given copious IV fluids. The hope was that he had stumbled across a mild toxin and the fluids would help flush his system. Bear update: No happy
The bear was under the observation of two veterinarians and several times showed signs of improvement, followed by bouts of disorientation. Bloodwork did not show any abnormalities. On Saturday, August 15, veterinarians witnessed the bear have a substantial seizure followed by the disorientation. Based on his quality of life, the decision was made to euthanize the bear.
A necropsy was performed, and it indicated encephalitis. Tissue samples were taken to hopefully determine the cause of the encephalitis. A rabies test was also performed and was negative.
As a reminder, CDFW would like to ask anyone who sees a bear they believe is sick or injured, to report it to the local authorities right away and not attempt to pet or approach the bear, which is what some people did during the August 6 incident. Bear update: No happy