A bear cub whose paws were burned during the 416 Fire “is doing really well,” a Colorado Parks and Wildlife official said Thursday.
The bear, who remains nameless, has grown from a mere 10½ pounds to a healthy 60 pounds in the past three months, said Heath Kehm, southwest deputy regional manager for CPW.
“Her paws are completely healed now,” he said. “She’s very healthy.”
Firefighters first found the bear while battling the 416 Fire in the Junction Creek area on the southwestern end of the fire that burned 54,129 acres. After noticing the cub alone for a few days, firefighters called CPW officials.
CPW tranquilized and captured the bear June 22 after finding her alone in a tree, her paws burned by the fire.
After weeks of rehabilitation at a center in Del Norte, which included salving and bandaging her paws, the young sow was put in a pen with other bear cubs that are also being rehabilitated. Durango’s CPW office rehabilitates about 16 bears each year, Kehm said.
CPW expects to care for the cub until at least January, when officials plan to release the bear into the wild, Kehm said.
She needs to gain about 20 more pounds before she can be released, he said. Colorado sows can grow up to 250 pounds.
Once the bear is released, CPW is hands-off, Kehm said.
“Hopefully, it’ll be the last time that we interact with that bear,” he said of releasing the young sow. “We want it to be a good, wild, healthy bear.”