The story of a burned bear cub found near the southwest end of the 416 Fire has garnered international attention and resonated with readers, who suggested a range of fire-inspired names for the young cub.
Thousands of news agencies, including outlets in Russia, the Netherlands and Brazil, have recounted how firefighters found the female bear cub in late June and called in wildlife officers to rescue it, said Joe Lewandowski, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“I think anytime humans are helping wildlife, people can empathize,” he said.
The bear is now being treated for four severely burned paws at the Frisco Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center near Del Norte and is expected to be released back into the wild.
“She is doing as well as can be expected. Her feet seem to healing,” Lewandowski said.
While CPW does not name rescued animals because doing so is a form of anthropomorphism, The Durango Herald invited readers to suggest names for the bear and received many appropriate and clever monikers.
Readers floated Cinderella, Sparky, Ember, Cinnamon Smoke, Flame, Fuego, Smokette and Phoenix among more than 70 responses. There were also votes for Drew Beary More, Tender Foot and J.C., in reference to Junction Creek.
Falls Creek Ranch residents Barry and Mary Ann Bryant were among several readers who suggested Hope.
“We hope she survives and lives a full life, and we hope our beautiful and loved forests recover quickly,” the couple wrote in an email to the Herald.
Bears are a fairly regular sight near the Falls Creek Ranch subdivision, and when the couple saw a cub was injured, they thought immediately of the bear families they have observed near their home.
“We just have a respect for the bears and a kinship to the bears,” Mary Ann Bryant said.
The 416 Fire burned canyons near their home. It is possible they may not see as many bears in the near future in those areas, but they were heartened to hear about a mom and her cubs swimming in a nearby lake recently.
“There is another young family still doing fine,” she said.
A reader from St. Louis, Denise Beggs, suggested Bernadette for the young bear, in part because the cub’s fur reminded her of actress Bernadette Peters’ red-gold hair.
Beggs has been following the fire closely because she loves the area and she sees the cub as a symbol for the recovery that’s going to happen after the fire.
“She’s going to come out and be as good as new,” she said.