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January 2012

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Hi everyone! Thank you for the nice comments about the new site. I just wanted to let everyone know that the webcam has officially moved to the new site (, and that the new webcam page is open for comments!

(In other words, we haven't received any comments on the new site yet, so please head on over there! Right now it's just crickets!)

The new site not only allows us to keep both the blog and website in one place, but it allows us to streamline our costs a bit too. Once we move the archives of Li'l Smokey's Rehabilitation Blog over the the new site, we will no longer pay for a hosted blog here. We will keep a free version up to redirect visitors to the new site.

As I noted at the top of this page, we will be closing comments here on February 10. Please let me know if that is too soon.

Thank you all for your participation here over the past few years. As I said above, it has been a wonderful experience for myself and everyone at LTWC, and we do hope that you will keep the conversation going at the new site.

Vicki E - Tucson, AZ

Mimi thanks for the links. Also have to say that I really enjoyed your article in the Quill! (I must admit that I always enjoy your stories!). Keep 'em coming!

Howdy Family!

Bobbie D. (Central Valley CA)

Mimi thanks much for pointing out the new LTWC web page that is looking real good with nice clear headers to click on and find things, kudos to the web master. Also thanks for the link to paws, they are a great organization that does great work.

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

I was going to offer another website for getting a really good "bear fix."

I know some of you come straight here. I always went to the website and clicked on the L'il Smokey words.

Go see! It's gorgeous! A whole new snazzy website for LTWC!

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

The wonderful new Quill needs to be available here. Looks like none from 2011 are up either. A non-bear friend on FB is asking where to read it. Uh, was that on my job list and I just goofed up?

Yes, a bunch of us are already signed up for the reunion. The attending bear cubs are still in their dens with Momma. How lovely if we wouldn't have any bears at all!

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

Is the camera working yet? Can't tell, as our subject is stationary. If this were Harry Potter country, our bear would be smiling and waving. . . probably better to know he is still just as dignified and serious where he is, being a bear in Siskiyou County.

Joanne DeKruse

Just sent my YES to Tom today for the LSR#4----looking forward to it already----see some of you there I'm sure--

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

What totally wonderful news, Tom! I hope Denise knows this. We chatted a bit at Raley's where she was working, talked about things better not set down here. Not having seen the news, I was thinking about Luisa this morning and how "God knows what She's doing." And how! I saw Cheryl's active devotion. So nice the weather made it an easy decision for the people in charge! Now, where are my tap shoes...

Linda, Redding, CA.

Hi everyone!

Having the dates for Li'l Smokey Reunion #4 is AWESOME news! Thank you Tom and Cheryl. Also, that the SLO bear gets to stay a while longer and get fatter. She needed a little extra TLC.

See y'all in July!
STB!!! Bear Hugs too!!!

Bobbie D. (Central Valley CA)

Thank you so much Tom for the place and date,,,,,yeahhhhhh SLT here we come. See ya all in July

Marcia Hopkins

Tom - thank you for the info on the SLO cub and the reunion. Looking forward to seeing everyone in July.

Tom Millham


Thanks for your comment AND your question regarding the 4th Annual Li'l Smokey Reunion.

Cheryl and I looked at the calendar and we realize that the 17th and 18th (the day Adam 'found' Li'l Smokey AND the day Li'l Smokey arrived at LTWC) will be on Tuesday and Wednesday this year. We feel that having the Reunion on the 'following' weekend after the 'Find' and the 'Receive', which would be Friday and Saturday July 20th and 21st would serve two issues. First, it would be closer to the actual dates of 'Find' and 'Receive' and second, we will 'hopefully' have more birds and animals in the outside cages, in preparation for our Annual Open House. We know how several of you - who have taken our training seminar - will want to help with the feeding and cleaning for those few days while you are here.

Bottom line????? Friday and Saturday, July 20th and 21st are the dates for the 4th Annual Li'l Smokey Reunion in South Lake Tahoe.

The format will be 'similar' to what we did last year. We will meet on Friday night for a get together dinner (yet to be determined), then Saturday at LTWC for a Bar-B-Q, followed by a special event (also 'Yet' to be determined) for your enjoyment.

In fairness to all, IF we get more people who are interested in coming, we will 'first' take those who have attended at least one of the last three reunions. Then, if we have more room, we will go on a first come, first served priority. I realize we are talking 6 months from now, but we might as well lay the ground rules. My main concern would be for lunch at LTWC on Saturday. Most anything else, we can work with, no matter what the number.

By the way. We finally got SNOW!!!!! We received about 6 - 8 inches here in SLT. Now - - - EVERYTHING is WHITE!!!!! Yeah.

Talk to you all soon.


Bobbie D. (Central Valley CA)

Just when you thought that you would be empty nesters for awhile one of the kids gets to stay longer. Good that Fish and Game decided to leave SLO where she is until spring being that is what we all hoped would happen.

Tom is there a date and a place for this years reunion yet? We would like to start making plans for a few trips and don't want to miss the reunion.

Tom Millham

Hi guys,

Well, a little 'Good News, Bad News' today for you.

The 'Bad News' is that due to ALLLLLLLLLLLLL the rain we 'finally' got here in California, made it impossible for Fish and Game to release the San Luis Obispo cub tomorrow morning at 5:30am, as they had planned.

Henceforth, the 'Good News' is that they have made the decision for us to keep her for another two months. We got a call today saying they would 'NOT' be here tomorrow morning - as planned, BUT, they would make a new release date in March, which is what we wanted all along.

We have already started putting her into hibernation, anticipating that she would be released tomorrow. Our 'new' plan now, will be to continue feeding her with the food we had planned to send with her to the release site, then, put her into hibernation, which will probably be next week.

By the way. I finally got the web cam to work - - - INSIDE the house. NOW - - - I need to try 'this' camera out in the BEAR cage. HOPEFULLY - - - it will work this time. We will see.

That's all for now. Talk with you soon.


Tom Millham

Thought you might like to see an article on the release of two bear cubs which were raised at LTWC this past 6 months.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, Fish and Game arrived at LTWC to take three of our six bear cubs and release them back to the wild. All three (of the six) came from the Tahoe basin. In today's (Sunday) issue of the Sacramento Bee, the release is on the FRONT PAGE!!!! Pictures and all. Please read and enjoy.

The last cub (from San Luis Obispo) will be released this Tuesday (January 24, 2012).

Thanks for all your help!


Beth from Sacramento

Good morning everyone! Great front page photo of Tom this morning on the front page of the Sacramento Bee. From the pictures, those are some very health bears!


Bittersweet days for the cubs and us. I'm so proud to be a part of LTWC. Now the cubs can be what they were meant to be-bears! Second chances are wonderful! Tom when is this years reunion scheduled?

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

Thank you, Tom! I got the impression that "we" hoped to keep "Luisa" a couple more months. Still, considering how very fierce she was even when injured, I have to trust that F&G knows what they are doing. When she was sleeping in a dishpan, I had to replace the towel she used for bedding. For a second our faces were inches apart. And she was hissing! I was saying I love you it's okay, which she didn't appear to understand or believe.

Now can somebody come in to resurface the bear house floor so nobody slips and falls? Please? Will this be expensive? Hope not.
Thanks, God bless!

Tom Millham

Hi guys,

This morning, at 9:30am, Fish and Game took the two cubs, both from the South Shore of Lake Tahoe (Sierra House school area and Spring Creek Tract),to bhe released back into the wild.

The Spring Creek cub weighed in at 66 pounds and the Sierra House cub weighed 93 pounds.

So - - - AT THIS TIME - - - the bear cage is EMPTY!!! As F & G drove off with these last two cubs from the 'Full House Five', Cheryl actually had a little tear, watching her kids as they 'drove' off into the sunset. Or, in this case, off into Alpine County.

They were both very healthy and looked very good. Next week, they will be here - EARLY - to get the San Luis Obispo cub and release her back in that area. THEN - - - we will have a TOTALLY EMPTY NEST!

If anything else comes up, I will let you know.



Thanks Tom.
Live well and be happy little ones, we'll miss you all!

Tom Millham

Good morning everyone,

It is now Tuesday, January 17th at 7:20am. Fish and Game should arrive at LTWC at 8am today to get the Carnelian Bay cub and take her up, north of Truckee to release her. They will be back tomorrow to get the other two cubs from Tahoe and release them in Alpine County.

As for the two Fresno area cubs last week, they weighed in at 83 and 93 pounds and in very good shape. OK, OK. They 'might' have been a 'little' overweight, but they will be sleeping it off and wake up around 70 - 80 pounds.

Still working on the web cam. I have everyone stumped. No one can figure out why this is not working out in the cage. But, we are still trying different things. Not many things left to try.


Ray in Shingletown

Don't know if this has been posted before.

Link to site with live cam feeds from bear dens.

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

Pretty good news, Tom! Did they say they were coming so early? Did Cheryl have a pot of coffee ready? My upstairs neighbor was stomping around at 3 minutes to 5 and I was cross! But for the bears, sure, you bet! Yes, indeed, that little girl is really one of the guys now. I hope we've learned from experience. So 1) can't we keep "Luisa" SLO a while longer? I understand she is sleeping in straw but still being fed. Will it be obvious to her just what to do? Did she learn how to fish? And 2) when the five are gone, maybe the bear house floor can be worked on to have more texture so it isn't so treacherous?

lil smokeys buddy

checking in hoping for a miracle. hopefully the cam will be up n at em soon !

congrats tom and cheryl on the float ! pictures? since i missed the parade on new years day.


And a Good Tuesday morning to you all.

Hope you all had a wonderful New Year. Cheryl and I did. And, in case you did not notice, the float we worked on (Dole Foods, as in Dole Pineapples) got the Sweepstakes Award, for the best float in the Rose Parade. It is a VERY good feeling!!

This morning, Fish and Game arrived here - bright and early - at 5am, to get the two Fresno area cubs. The most difficult part was "Trying" to separate those two cubs from the other three. Not an easy task, BUT, definitely accomplishable (is that a word???). We finally got the two we wanted, knocked them out and weighed them. They weighed in at 83 and 93 pounds. VERY good!!! Everything else went well and F & G left here about 7am to venture to the foothills of Fresno and Yosemite. No, they are not going INTO Yosemite, as that is a National Park and these cubs came from 'outside' of the property boundary of the park. They should be in their den well before nightfall and out in the wild!!!

Next week, they will come and get 'at least' one of the other three of the 'Full House Five'. The Carnelian Bay cub will be released then AND - we are hoping - that they will 'consider' taking all three, especially since they have been together for five + months. All we can do is 'plant the seed' and see IF it grows. The Carnelian Bay cub was (and still is) the only female of the 'Full House Five'. The other two males with her both came from down here on the South Shore.

Yes - - - we are 'still' working on the camera. It is REALLY strange why we can't get it to work.

More when I get anything.


Marcia Hopkins

Hope everyone is enjoyong their New Year. Waiting for word on the release of the cubs. Hope tp see some of you again in July. Any word of a reunion yet? Anywhere?


Hi Tom,
Happy New Year. Any updates on the dates the bears leave?

Bobbie D (Central Valley CA)

This is so sad not seeing any new posts in so long. Tom hope you are able to get the camera working again before everyone has gone home?

Michelle - Grass Valley, CA

I sure do miss watching the cubbies....Happy New Year to all!

Karen Ferry

Tom and Friends, Hope your Holidays have been happy and I would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year.Happy times for all the wonderful wildlife out there, may they be safe and content and out of any danager and have lots of good food and safe places to sleep. Love to all Karen Ferry

Vicki E - Tucson, AZ

Hello Family! Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah! Can't believe that the cubs will be released this early. Shouldn't they be released during hibernation? Tom, what are your thoughts on this? The cubs will be losing two months of quality care. Do you think that they will be ready?


Good Tuesday morning, Li'l Smokey Family,

I just received an e-mail from Fish and Game regarding the release of our cubs. In TWO weeks (yes, TWO weeks!), they will be up here to pick up the two cubs from the Fresno area and take them into the foothills of Yosemite (area). All of the 'Full House Five' cubs are doing very well and have good weight.

We also have been told that the San Luis Obispo (SLO) cub will be released 'about' 2 - 3 weeks after the Fresno cubs. They have a very good area, not far from where she came from and, with her chin doing so well, as well as her weight, they feel good about this location. At this time, they are still trying to confirm the date and location for the three cubs from the Tahoe area. I would assume that it would be very shortly following SLO's release.

We trust you all had a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanakkua and will be looking forward to bringing in the New Year!! As for us - - - I just hope, wish and pray that we will get 'some' snow!! Still dry up here, although, I spoke with the Gen. Manager of Sierra at Tahoe and he tells me that 'his' meteorologist tell 'him' that they can expect precipitation in early January. Let's hope they are right. Have a Happy New Year. Be safe and happy.


Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

The cubs we will care for next summer are still a gleam in Daddy's eye. They have not been born yet. Just maybe they and their moms will all make it this year and the bear house can go wanting. That would be okay, too.

Bobbie D (Central Valley CA)

Tommy thanks for the update. You and Cheryl enjoy family time in So Cal and I'll be watching for the float.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and Merry Christmas

Sue Horst

Merry Christmas to all.
Sleep well cubs. Only a few more months and the sweet smell of freedom will be yours.
It really is a wonderful world out there despite what some humans might tell you.
My wish is that you go and live in peace and prosper and live a long and happy life.
Come to think of it I wish that for everyone - human or animal.


Tom, thanks for the update. I hope you and Cheryl enjoy the trip and we'll look forward to seeing the float.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone, including bears past and present.



Hi guys,

I wish I had some good news for you regarding the web cam. I have been racking my brain (and there is not too much left), trying to figure out what is going on with it. A couple of times, I 'thought' we had it figured out, but to no avail. BUT - - - we are still trying.

The "Full House Five" are doing well. They have made a very neat nest in the 'Feed Area' of the BEAR Cage with all of the 'grass hay' we put in for them. They are still grapling a few minutes a day, but, for the most part, they sleep.

The SLO cub is still gaining some weight. She is probably about 60 pounds now. We are feeding her only every 'other' day. Her chin looks very good and you can hardly tell she had any trouble at all.

Cheryl and I will be in Southern Cal for the Rose Parade, starting next Wednesday. We are helping Cheryl's brother - Darryl - decorate the Dole Foods float (better known for Dole Pineapple). It has a mom and baby elephant on the front of the float, along with several tigers and leopards. If you would like to see the Dole float, along with ALL of the floats being produced by Fiesta Floats, just go to ( Scroll down to see the Dole Foods float, then watch to see what we win on Jan. 2nd. Remember, because New Year's Day is on Sunday this year, the parade will be on Monday.

Merry Christmas to you all and we hope and pray that your New Year will bring peace, health, wealth and happiness!


Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

On BBC news, "Polar Bear Cub Taken Into Care." it seems the zoo in Denmark had this little boy bear named Siku born there, but the mom didn't produce enough milk. They saw fit to give his 24/7 care to three people. Seems like they could have kept him with the mom somehow. He is displayed for photographers on a carpet sample! Or doormat. Just adorable! Nothing like it at Toys R Us!

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

Lovely memory, Bobbie! Yes, indeed, it looks like more than bears are hibernating. We still have no snow, incredibly! I thought the camera would be working, as Luisa is still being fed. However, she spends much of her time in one of her loft areas. Maybe there's a small glitch, like, a part is on order or someone is out of town. Happy Christmas, everybody!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the bears, past and present, and to you all!

Bobbie D (Central Valley CA)

It is Beary sad not to see all the wonderful posts and updates being the camera is still not working, sigh! I hope all of the cubs are having visions of sugar plums dancing in there head and sleeping away. Speaking of sugar plums, I just had a flash back of our Lil Smokey when he was tearing up his house looking for any morsal of food and finally eating that old dried out carrot that was hiding under the pallet. He was so proud of himself. I pray that he is snug, warm and safe while enjoying being a free Bear.

I would like to wish each and everyone of you a safe and Happy Holiday Season.

Michelle - Grass Valley, CA

For everyone in need of a cubbie fix, check out another wonderful group that gives baby bears a second chance. Lots of good pics and videos. Enjoy!!/AppalachianBearRescue

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

Thank you, Bobbie! I have an exquisite bear cub greeting card, the photograph taken by Lisa and Mike Husar. You can google for them and drool on their beautiful pictures. [I've always thought I would donate to LTWC before I order a blow-up of their work.] Or search on BBC for animals and get to their Nature section. One page was all kinds of wild animals. When I clicked on American Black Bear, I got some lovely film clips including quite a few of Lily and Hope. And I think we each have other things that float our boat. I like to take $15,000 of moon money and spend at Neiman-Marcus, except the industry exploits animals so much. Then there's jigsaw puzzles. Cooking. Movies. You can go to the Ferrari website and listen to the "Vroom!" Lots of Christmas parties and pageants about now.

Bobbie D (Central Valley CA)

Mimi I didn't see anything in that web site that would cause it to be gobbled up. I thought it was neat but oh well, who am I except a person that is going through serious "Bear" withdrawls. Even the Polar Bear Cub web cam is down in Aalborg Zoo. Can't watch the Eagle cam with Patriot and Liberty either because they are building a new nest this year.

Sure do miss seeing a lot more posts on here. Thanks Mimi for keeping us updated on what is happening. Hopefully Tom will get the new cable and the powers that be will get the cam back online soon.

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

Where did my last post go? Did the system swallow it? I thot it was harmless -- about baby animals, wild animals and American Black Bears on BBC website. Oh, well . . .

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

Warm wishes back, Bobbie and Michelle! "Luisa" is about 55 pounds now. Tom and Cheryl have corresponded with a class of school children who followed the bear's progress. The cub was seen in apple and pear trees, but her throat was too sore for her to eat the fruit. Cheryl said the bear seemed to remember the pain when an apple appeared in her food. Finally she realized the apple was good for her and has moved on to enjoy apple. The kids were fascinated to see how Dr. Willets gradually closed the wound, and weren't we all! ... I don't know hay from straw. This stuff is a pretty light green. ... "Himself" was out of town yesterday, though LTWC has several devoted techies to help.

Bobbie D. (Central Valley CA)

Mimi, thank you for such an informed update. I am so glad to hear that Luisa (SLO) is gaining and doing well so she can go home this spring. I was wondering how LTWC kept the water from freezing and now I know. Guess it is time for the 5 cubbies to settle down for a long winters nap. Hopefully Tom will be able to get the camera fixed soon so we can all get our cub fix.

Michelle - Grass Valley, CA

Thanks Mimi for the update.... good to hear the details of Luisa's progress. Sounds like everyone is settling down for a long winter's nap. Wishing everyone a warm and peaceful holiday.

Mimi - South Lake Tahoe

Today I went to see Luisa -- and Cheryl! Cheryl is feeding her every day, but much less. She [the bear!] will be released sometime in the spring when availability of food is a sure thing in her home county. The bear has been given straw in her studio same as the Five-Pack. She pushes it around and sleeps in it. The food I saw was red grapes and pomegranate. In past years I thought it looked like pomegranate but had not confirmed this until today. Luisa also gets oatmeal, lettuce, apples, etc. I also had not realized that the Bobcat Cage has two lofts. This once pitiful little bear is huge now and very very pretty. She was sitting up top watching Cheryl poking through the straw looking for her dishes. Luisa doesn't have the routine down of leaving empty dishes out for Room Service to remove. The Bobcat Cage windows are covered with heavy cloudy plastic to keep some warmth in. Oh, and because it's below freezing at night, Luisa has a large bowl of water with an electric warmer cunningly designed so she can't unplug it or chew the wire. The wide bowl is set down in a wooden frame with the wire going directly outside. I didn't visit the five cubs because Cheryl said they would just run. I watched them on camera, rolling and playing in their straw. As for the camera, a power outtage awhile back really messed things up. New cables have to be purchased. And experts have to make it work. All she rote!


Yes, this Bear Hunt is unbeleivably sad :(

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