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A young bear cub is recovering after receiving unique veterinary care to heal her paws that were badly burned as she fled from the Carr Fire.
The cub was found by a PG&E contractor near Whiskeytown, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. She was lying in a pile of ash and was unable to walk because of the severe burns on her paws.
The bear was tranquilized and transported to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care to be treated. Veterinarians used sterilized tilapia skins as bandages, sutured directly over her burns.
“Generally speaking, an animal that has survived a fire and is walking around on its own should be left alone, but that wasn’t the case here,” Environmental Program Manager, Jeff Stoddard said.
“In addition to her inability to stand or walk, there were active fires burning nearby, and with the burn area exceeding 125 square miles and growing, we weren’t sure there was any suitable habitat nearby to take her to.”
The fish-skin therapy has been used previously on two bears burned in the Thomas Fire. Those bears were treated and released back into the wild in January 2018.
Dr. Deana Clifford with Cal Fish and Wildlife, who is the lead wildlife vet in charge of the bear’s care, says she is optimistic about the chances of the treatment’s success.
“This little bear is younger and spunkier than the two bears we treated in January, which is kind of a mixed blessing,” Clifford said. “We’re optimistic that she’ll make a full recovery in due time.”
If you encounter an injured wild animal that is in obvious distress or not moving, please contact Cal Fish and Wildlife for assistance.