Bear cub with severely burned feet gets hope for survival

Bear cub with severely burned feet gets hope for survival

Outdoors

Bear cub with severely burned feet gets hope for survival

A bear cub that had become separated from its mother was found wandering through a burned area by Colorado firefighters while they worked on the 416 fire north of Durango.

When the cub failed to reunite with its mother after two days, wildlife officials were called in to tend to the ailing cub, which was found with severe burns to its feet, Colorado Parks and Wildlife revealed Friday.

The orphaned cub was in a tree when wildlife officers arrived on the scene. They tranquilized the animal and transported it to the CPW’s Frisco Creek wildlife facility near Del Norte in the San Luis Valley.

“We weren’t optimistic at first,” said Matt Thorpe, area wildlife manager in Durango. “It probably hadn’t eaten in a couple of days, but it had survived on its own so we wanted to give it a chance.”

Photo: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Medicinal salve dressing was applied to the cub’s feet to aid in the healing of the burned tissue, and the feet were wrapped in medical bandages.

The dressing is changed every two days and antibiotics are given with each treatment to prevent infection. It’s also given a small dose of painkiller.

Photo: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

It remains unclear how the cub got separated from its mother. The most likely reason is that the mother left the cub in a safe place with the intention of returning but couldn’t because of the fire.

For the bear cub to have a chance at being returned to the wild, it must not become habituated to humans. So the cub has almost no contact with humans; it’s anesthetized for each treatment and kept in a pen away from humans.

“We have good luck returning young bears to the wild,” said Michael Sirochman, manager of the Frisco Creek facility. “We’re very strict about minimizing human contact.”

Photo: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Once the feet are healed after about a month, the bear will be placed in an enclosure with four other cubs at the facility. They’ll grow throughout the summer and fall, and when ready for hibernation in the winter, they’ll most likely be placed in dens made by wildlife officers near where they were found.

“When the bear was brought in I wasn’t sure if it was going to make it,” Sirochman said. “But she’s responding very well to treatment and by winter we believe we’ll be able to return her to the wild.”

All photos provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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