Colorado Parks and Wildlife employees are hoping to rehabilitate an orphaned bear cub who was burned in the 416 Fire in southwestern Colorado.
CPW spokesman Joe Lewandowski said last week, firefighters noticed the young bear wandering alone through a burned area. When they didn’t see her mother after a few days, firefighters called CPW. Wildlife officers found the cub in a tree and immobilized her with a tranquilizer dart. She appeared healthy except for burns on her feet, according to CPW.
Wildlife officers said the bear likely became orphaned after her mother placed her in a safe place, but was unable to get back to her due to the fire.
The cub is being treated at CPW’s Frisco Creek wildlife facility near Del Norte. Employees started by applying a medicinal salve dressing to the bear’s feet, which aids in healing the burned tissue, and then wrapping them in multiple layers of gauze and medical bandages. After every treatment the bear is injected with antibiotics to prevent infection, and given a small dose of pain medication.
The dressing is changed every two days. She is being fed a liquid milk replacement and solid food.
CPW said they are limiting the bear’s contact with humans, in hopes that she will be fit to return to the wild. They plan to rehabilitate the cub at the facility through the summer and fall, and then determine how to return her to the wild.
Smokey Bear dropped in to visit the cub as she was getting her bandages changed. See the video:
CPW said that while some wildlife, such as this cub, are injured in forest fires, most land animals are able to escape danger. Fish and other animals that live in mountain streams are more susceptible to danger due to ash flows from burned hillsides.