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DENVER (CBS4) – An iconic symbol of wildland and forest safety turns 73-years-old today.

Several agencies from all over the country wished Smokey Bear a happy birthday.

One of those agencies has a special connection to Smokey.

Colorado’s own Parks and Wildlife Department shared their wishes on twitter.

The Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign was created in 1944 by the U.S. Forest Service.

It wasn’t until then when Smokey Bear quickly became extremely popular that prompted an Act of Congress which allowed money to be collected for Smokey’s image. That money would go toward continued wildfire prevention education that would span decades to come.

smokey bear via smokey bear website Smokey Bear Celebrates 73rd Birthday

Smokey Bear (via smokey bear website)

 

In 1950, a bear cub became the real life face to the campaign. The cub was severely injured in a raging wildfire in south central New Mexico. Rangers saved the cub which had burns to its paws and hind legs.

The cub was later moved to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. where he died in 1976. His body was moved back to New Mexico where he was buried at the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan.

LINK: History About the Smokey Bear Campaign

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