By Alan Gionet

DEL NORTE, Colo. (CBS4) – An orphaned bear cub that suffered terrible, painful burns to its paws in the 416 Fire near Durango is getting back on its feet. The bear no long needs therapeutic wraps on its feet, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Friday.

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The bear cub on Thursday (credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

“The burns have healed nicely and at this point I’d say her paws are about 95 percent healed,” said Michael Sirochman, manager of the Frisco Creek facility where the cub has been getting treated.

Firefighters saw the cub wandering alone in an area north of Durango back on June 22. Wildlife officers later found the cub in a tree and tranquilized her with dart before bringing her in. There was no sign of the mother. The cub weighed just 10 pounds. Experts considered the burns severe.

Photos from Colorado Parks and Wildlife show the bear just after it was found (above) and earlier this week (below). (credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

They treated the little cub with salve, bandages, antibiotics and pain medication. They tried not to allow the cub to become too used to humans, but fed it solid food and a liquid milk replacement.


Experts took the cub from the small pen where it was been held in isolation on July 18 and placed her in a large pen with four other bear cubs at CPW’s wildlife rehabilitation center in the San Luis Valley.

“She still has a few nicks on her feet that we’re keeping an eye on so we’ll probably examine her a few more times during the next month,” said Sirochman.

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Sirochman had feared the bear wouldn’t make it. The animal is doing well, however, and is up to 26 pounds. In fact, as the cub started feeling better, she started pulling the bandages off her paws.

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The new enclosure with the other bears is designed to get the animal used to behavior in the wild again.

“She’s only been with the other bears for a couple of days, but she appears to be settling in with them,” Sirochman said.

They hope to get young bears up to about 90 pounds before moving them back into the wild. The bears are fed a specially designed feed plus cut branches full of native berries and some carrion. They hope to transfer the bear back into the wild, placing her in a den in January – if her recovery continues to go well. Right now, wildlife officers are encouraged.

Wildfire Resources

– Visit’s Colorado Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile), the deadliest (Storm King) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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Alan Gionet is anchor of CBS4 This Morning and reports on a wide variety of issues and “Good Question” stories. He started at CBS4 in 1994. Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanGTV or on Facebook.