MONTEZUMA COUNTY — Wildlife officers rescued a bear Tuesday whose feet were badly burned by the East Canyon Fire.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the bear is now being cared for at a facility in Del Norte, which is in the San Luis Valley. CPW posted a video Thursday of the bear and said it would be at the facility for another six to eight weeks until it is released.
CPW said their wildlife office in Durango received a call from fire dispatch Tuesday. Firefighters reported seeing a bear that appeared to be injured and had walked into an area near a pond.
Firefighters provided a location and two wildlife officers responded to the area. CPW said when the officers approached, the bear did not move.
“You could tell it was really hurting,” Wildlife Officer Steve McClung said.
The officers were able to sedate the bear and then discovered the burns on the animal's feet.
CPW said the bear is a yearling male, meaning it was born during the winter of 2019 but is now living on its own.
“Across the road from where we found it the area was burned heavily,” McClung said. “There were little spot fires and some stumps burning. We can’t say exactly what happened, but it probably got caught and had to move across some hot spots.”
CPW reports that Michael Sirochman, veterinary manager at the Frisco Creek wildlife rehab facility, said the bears paws were burned, but not so deeply that the animal was permanently injured.
“The prognosis is good and the underlying tissue is healthy,” Sirochman said. “We cut off the burned tissue that was sloughing off and we put on bandages.”
The bear is expected to be ready for release in about eight weeks, according to CPW. Bears that are taken in for rehab are usually released near the area where they were found.
In 2018, Durango area wildlife officers also rescued a bear whose paws were badly burned in the 416 Fire. That bear fully recovered and was placed into a den for hibernation in January of 2019. CPW said game cameras showed that bear emerged successfully from the den that Spring.