SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) – Heavenly, the bear, was named so after he was found skirting through the Heavenly Ski lift in early March. The Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Center nursed Heavenly back to health, and Secretary Tom Millham, dreamed of a happy ending for him.
"Our expectation for all bears that are released back into the wild are that they would go back into the wild and perform their natural things that they do," said Millham.
Unfortunately, that's not how the story is unfolding. Last week, Heavenly was released into the wild 25 miles south of Lake Tahoe, but he quickly returned and was captured overnight after reports of him approaching people. Heavenly has been deemed too domesticated for wild life and will be given to a sanctuary.
"Basically it came back to where it learned how to eat," said Chris Healy from the Nevada Department of Wildlife. "Unfortunately, it learned how to eat amongst the garbage from homes in of Lake Tahoe."
Heavenly is currently staying at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Center where his fate hangs in the balance. Returning to the wild is not an option.
"This is a wild animal it will no longer be able to be wild because it has become acclimated to humans as a source of food," Healy said.
Healy and Millham believe Heavenly may have been illegally fed by humans.
"Don't feed the wildlife," said Millham. "They know enough to get their own food."
By doing so, authorities have to consider the danger Heavenly could pose to humans when he grows bigger.
"We have taken what should be a magnificent wild animal and turned it into an almost domestic pet, and now it’s going to have to live out its life in a sanctuary," said Healy. "It’s a horrible outcome for this fine animal."
However, Heavenly's fate does not include euthanization.
"We really only have two alternatives: one is to put him down, or the other would be to place him," said Millham. "So yeah, placing him would be the lesser of two evils."
Millham said there has been a lot of interest for heavenly from different sanctuaries across the country thanks to his story, and "Tahoe", another bear cub at the wildlife center that made national headlines.