Young bear rescued after suffering severe burns in Colorado wildfire

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DURANGO, Colo. (KDVR) – A young black bear has been taken to a rehabilitation center after it was found badly injured near the East Canyon Fire in Colorado on Tuesday.

The fire west of Durango, has burned more than 2,500 acres. 

Matt Thorpe, area wildlife manager, says local firefighters found the bear just before 5 p.m. Tuesday near a pond on the fire’s perimeter. 

“It was apparent that it had some pretty severe injuries,” says Thorpe. “Bears, similar to a dog’s paw, have that tough skin on the bottom of their pads, and on several of them, the pad was sloughing off.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife employees were able to tranquilize the bear and load it into a cage. Thorpe says it’s unlikely the bear would have survived without intervention.

“Climbing up a tree is their defense from predators, so I can only imagine how tough it would be trying to climb a tree, or just do those normal bear activities with pretty severe injuries to its feet.”

Thorpe estimates the male bear is about 1 year old. It was taken to the Frisco Creek Rehabilitation Center, the same place a bear cub was nursed back to health after being injured in the 416 Fire in 2018. 

Veterinarians placed bandages on all four paws and will monitor the bear for 6-8 weeks. 

“Certainly there was a good outcome with the 416 cub,” says Thorpe. “And we’re very optimistic that we’ll have the same positive outcome and be able to release this bear onto the landscape this fall or winter.”

Thursday afternoon, Colorado Parks and Wildlife tweeted video of the bear walking gingerly around its pen.

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