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Orphaned bear cub escapes wildfire with badly burned paws

Orphaned bear cub escapes wildfire with badly burned paws
WENATCHEE, Wash. -- The newest victim from the Carlton Complex Fire is a black bear cub. Methow Valley homeowner Steve Love says his dog was barking and horse was prancing and snorting to sound an alarm. That's when he first spotted the 6-month old cub hobbling up his driveway.

He could tell the cub was seriously injured but when he first approached, she made menacing sounds and he backed away. He was eventually able to toss her apricots from a tree and get her some water.

"Later in the evening, she was lying down making pitiful whimpering noises," Love said. "I got about six feet away, sat down and talked to it in a soothing way, telling it things would be okay. It seemed to make it feel better. It stopped making the noises."

The next day, a Fish and Wildlife Police Officer was able to capture the cub and transport her to Wenatchee. That's where state biologist Rich Beausoleil picked up her care.

"They're severe," Beausoleil said of her wounds. "All four paws were 3rd degree burns. She has some burns to her face and arms and chest. Those were relatively minor and I think that will grow back. It's the four feet we're worried about."

Dr. Randy Hein, an East Wenatchee veterinarian donated time and medicine. Beausoleil fed her a concoction of yogurt and dog food while seeking out long term help. He says he started with Sally Maughan of Idaho Black Bear Rehabilitation who pointed him towards Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

In 2008, the center rehabilitated a cub nicknamed "Lil Smokey" who suffered burns in a California wildfire. They agreed to take cub, which they've named Cinder, but there was the challenge of getting her there.



Beausoleil said they could have put her on a cargo flight, but at a taxpayer cost of $500, it wasn't a sure thing. He reached out to a group called Pilots for Paws, and a Seattle pilot volunteered to pick Cinder up in Wenatchee and deliver her to Tahoe.

It was much better than going cargo which "certainly would have had layovers and just a lot of sitting around which is very stressful on an animal," Beausoleil said. "And this guy just made it all disappear with his generosity. It was really kind of nice."

Cinder is now safely in Tahoe and receiving care. "She was in good spirits, not crying and eating and drinking very normally and that's a great sign so we're optimistic that she'll make a recovery," Beausoleil said.
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