Outdoor Tips for Northern California and Southern Oregon outdoorsmen
New Feature

Click on Columnists  to access travelogues, field reports, advice, humorous tales and answers to your Q’s! 





Products-Services


Website of the Week

                                




Those Wonderful Wildlife Caregivers

On Patrol, by Steven T. Callan, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com

ne of the more disheartening, sometimes discouraging aspects of a wildlife officer’s job is dealing with injured, orphaned, or imprinted wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild. Wildlife rehabilitation facilities, most of them operated by dedicated volunteers, are generally equipped to care for birds and small mammals, but not for large potentially dangerous carnivores such as bears, mountain lions, and exotic big cats.

While enforcing “animal welfare” regulations during my early years with the California Department of Fish and Game, I conducted several investigations involving the illegal possession of exotic big cats -- a black leopard cub, an African lion cub, a Bengal tiger cub, and a full-grown adult leopard quickly come to mind. Each time I took the necessary enforcement action, I found myself faced with the difficult, almost impossible task of finding a zoo or qualified wild animal facility willing and able to accept the animal. In each case, there were no takers, so we ended up requiring the violator to ship the animal back to its state of origin.

Shortly after transferring to Shasta County in 1981, I investigated a case involving three orphaned black bear cubs whose mother had been illegally killed. Everyone at the Redding Fish and Game office, including me, fell in love with those pint-sized climbing machines but feared their ultimate fate if we couldn’t find a reputable zoo or wild animal park prepared to adopt them. In the end, Fish and Game Biologist Dave Smith persuaded an Oregon wild animal park to take on the responsibility.

Steven T. Callen with one of three orphaned black bear cubs, circa 1981. Photo courtesy of Steven T. Callan
Author with one of three orphaned black bear cubs, circa 1981. Photo courtesy of author

Fast forward to June 2015 and the Outdoor Writers Association of California Spring Conference at Big Bear Lake, California. One of the fascinating speakers on opening day was Bob Cisneros, curator of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo and president of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. Before becoming curator of the Big Bear Zoo, Cisneros had spent over twenty years caring for wildlife at the world-famous San Diego Zoo and had traveled the globe as a tireless advocate for wildlife. As he spoke to our group on that hot June day, Cisneros’s passion for the Earth’s wild creatures was palpable—and contagious.

Kathy with two new friends, Cowboy the great horned owl and Christy McGiveron, from the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. Photo by Steven T. Callan
Kathy with two new friends, Cowboy the great horned owl and Christy McGiveron, from the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. Photo by author

Operating since 1959, Big Bear Zoo describes itself as a “last chance facility” for most of its occupants. This wild animal sanctuary and rehabilitation center is home to approximately 160 non-releasable orphaned, injured, or imprinted wild animals. Among the eighty-nine-plus species found at the zoo are some beloved bears, two robust mountain lions, and a pair of one-eyed snow leopards.

In 1996, a female grizzly was tormenting visitors at Yellowstone National Park. Twice trapped and removed from the campgrounds by park officials, this “three strikes bear” returned a third time with two cubs in tow. To make matters worse, the cubs were quickly learning their mother’s destructive habits. All three bears were slated to be euthanized when the Friends of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo stepped in and saved the day. Tutu, the mother grizzly, and her two offspring, Ayla and Harley, remain alive and well at the zoo.

Big Bear Alpine Zoo’s famous grizzly bear family: Tutu in back, with Harley (left) and Ayla (right). Photo by Steven T. Callan
Big Bear Alpine Zoo’s famous grizzly bear family: Tutu in back, with Harley (left) and Ayla (right). Photo by author

Enter four California black bears, all headed for an early demise when the Big Bear Alpine Zoo provided them with a home for life. As a cub, Hucklebeary was hit by a car while crossing Highway 38 near Big Bear. This three-legged ambassador for bruins everywhere has entertained zoo visitors since 2002. Hollybeary was orphaned in 2005 and hand-fed back to health by the zoo staff. Zuni was found starving near the high desert city of Barstow, and Pooh, a habitual beehive raider, was trapped and brought in by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Oh, no! She must have kittens around here somewhere.” Such were the thoughts of a California rancher in 2002, after he’d shot and killed a female mountain lion that had been preying on his livestock. The rancher’s depredation permit had authorized him to legally shoot the protected cougar, but he felt obliged to contact the Department of Fish and Game when he noticed the 110-pound cat was lactating. Soon thereafter, the Department of Fish and Game began an exhaustive search for her orphaned offspring. Two spotted four-week-old kittens were found huddled in a den nearby. Raised by hand and imprinted on humans, Cascade and Canyon could never be released into the wild. Today these magnificent felines evoke oohs and aahs from visitors at the Big Bear Alpine Zoo.

Canyon, one of Big Bear Alpine Zoo’s beautiful mountain lions. Photo by Steven T. Callan
Canyon, one of Big Bear Alpine Zoo’s beautiful mountain lions. Photo by author.

As you might have guessed, not every wild animal story has a happy ending. Cases like those I’ve described are many and facilities like the Big Bear Alpine Zoo are few and far between. The good news is that under the leadership of Bob Cisneros, the Big Bear Zoo will soon be moving to a modern and more spacious new home. You can find out more about this unique wild animal park and its dedicated wildlife caregivers by visiting the Big Bear Alpine Zoo website.

The OWAC gang at Big Bear Alpine Zoo: left to right, Outdoor Writers Association of California President Bob Semerau, Chris Semerau, Big Bear Alpine Zoo Curator Bob Cisneros, Steve Callan, Kathy Callan, and Dave Lite. Photo by Maureen Lite
The OWAC gang at Big Bear Alpine Zoo: left to right, Outdoor Writers Association of California President Bob Semerau, Chris Semerau, Big Bear Alpine Zoo Curator Bob Cisneros, Steve Callan, Kathy Callan, and Dave Lite. Photo by Maureen Lite

If you live in the Golden State and would like to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation centers near you, the California Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators maintains an extensive database of wildlife waystations.

Steven T. Callan is an award-winning writer and the author of 2013 “Book of the Year” finalist "Badges, Bears, and Eagles—The True-Life Adventures of a California Fish and Game Warden.” He is the recipient of the 2014 and 2015 “Best Outdoor Magazine Column” awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of California. Steve’s sequel, “The Game Warden’s Son,” is scheduled for release March 1, 2016.

Steve can be reached online at callan.coffeetownpress.com.


More Hunting Tips

B&C Cookbook kabobs the competition

Grilling season is here. The Boone and Crockett Club is sharing a kabob recipe from a cookbook that skewered the competition recently in a national book awards. The Club's first-ever cookbook, "Wild Gourmet... Full Story

How to Keep smilin’ after the Shot

A man in Camo stoops over and searches the area for signs of animals and their tracks
By Jason Haley
They returned to camp grinning ear to ear. I had a hunch what that meant and was hoping for the best -- a short trail, happy hunter and me in my tent before midnight. I knew better. As we gathered packs, bags, and extra... Full Story

How to Stay Sharp for When the Shot Counts

Daisy Pellet Rifle, Powerline 1000S
By Jesse Bible
I would like to share a method for honing shooting skills. Here in Northern California, the odds are that you will be taking a close shot at a deer that has more than likely seen you first. Once you...Full Story

How to handle firearms safely

Hunting seasons come and go but gun safety should always be on our minds. With that said, Budweiser and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), two longtime partners in wildlife conservation and responsible outdoor...Full Story

How & when to purchase a firearm for a special occasion

By Gary Heffley
There are many gift givers and gift recipients every year who expect to give or get a gun for Christmas (or other special occasion) who, because they are unfamiliar with gun purchasing laws in the state of California, become discouraged...Full Story

How to Honk a Short Reed Goose Call

By Gary Lewis
Many variations of the Short Reed Goose Call are available; most are made from ABS, polycarbonate, wood or acrylic. According to call designer Shad Harrison opf Harrison Calls of Vale, OR, the shorter a goose call is the harder it is to blow... Full Story

How Archery Makes You a Better Hunter

Steve Kensett, Francisco Garcia, B-Zone Buck, How Archery Makes You a Better Hunter
By Francisco Garcia
Deer hunting with archery equipment can be a humbling experience. You can see bucks all day and all season long but it doesn’t mean you will slap your tag on one. There are too many variables involved in this game. Almost everything has to go right...Full Story

 

Your outdoor adventures have only just begun
Northern California Fishing News, Northern California Hunting Reports

Fishing News

Northern California and Southern Oregon offer superb fresh and saltwater fishing. Before you make a trip, make sure you have
up-to-date news about where the fish are biting!

Hunting News

This region is also famous for its world-class hunting opportunities. Make sure you are armed with the absolute latest news by checking
the reports being filed daily at MyOutdoorBuddy.com.

Northern California Outdoor News, Northern California Outdoor Reports Outdoor News 

If you like to explore the great outdoors your choices are essentially infinite in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Use our news pages to plan your next outing!

Northern California Destination News, Northern California Destination Reports

Destinations

So many places to visit and so little time, but if you scan
these pages you'll know in advance what lies ahead and what
not to miss in the almost-mythical State of Jefferson.
Buddy Photos

You are there! Towering mountains, vast valleys, unique shorelines. Land, water and air bursting with life. Opportunity presents itself. Llghting is right. Click! An image is captured for the ages.

Photo Galleries, MyOutdoorBuddy.com

Photo Galleries

A preview of coming attractions...if you are planning a trip to this area be forewarned: What photographers have captured will whet your appetite for what will be an outdoor journey filled with wonders.  

Product & Services Directory

Don't let anything come between you and a wonderful weekend, vacation or or auto tour in this region. The fine product and services providers listed here will have what you need to enjoy your visit.  

Come back to MyOutdoorBuddy.com for more Northern California and Southern Oregon fishing, hunting and outdoor news, reports, information, opinions and photos.

Facebook

A friend to all who love the outdoors since 2006

Website Design Photo Credits: MyOutdoorBuddy.com thanks the following individuals for contributing photographs for use on our Home and Section pages: Anders Tomlinson of Tule-Lake.com, Casey Allen of Bayside, CA; Jason Haley of Medford, OR; Steve Breth of Burney, CA; Tracy McCormack of Eureka, CA; Grant Thompson of Grand Junction, CO; Richard Bott of Shingletown, CA; Ron Loftus of Yreka, CA; Scott Caldwell of Montague, CA; Lorissa Soriano of Alturas, CA and the late Dave Menke, formerly with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Website Design by Anders Tomlinson

©Copyright 2005-2015 by Frank Galusha, Editor and Publisher. Articles and photos are copyright protected and are published exclusively on the Internet by the publisher and may not be copied, displayed, reproduced or published in any other form without the express written permission of same who reserves all rights. Material supplied by others is the copyrighted property of the respective authors. Re-use of any MyOutdoorBuddy content, graphics and photos without written permission by the author(s) for any purpose is strictly prohibited.