DURANGO, Colo. (KDVR/AP) — A young black bear burned in the East Canyon Fire in Colorado two months ago is doing much better. Wildlife officials report Wednesday the bear has been released back to the wild.
Wildlife officials received a report of a hurt bear roaming along the perimeter of a fire west of Durango on the line between La Plata and Montezuma counties on June 16. Officials used a tranquilizer to immobilize the roughly 2-year-old male weighing about 50 pounds before transporting the animal to the rehabilitation unit. The Durango Herald reports that within days, the bear was back on its feet. The bear’s paws healed over time and he gained more than 60 pounds — enough strength to proficiently climb trees in his pen.
Original story follows below.
“The bear had his bandages removed and is continuing his healing process at our Frisco Creek Rehabilitation Facility! Here is a short video of some footage caught by the game camera placed in his outdoor facility. After the bear is fully healed, he will be released back into the wild!” shared Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Durango on Facebook on Monday.
Area Wildlife Manager Matt Thorpe says local firefighters found the bear just before 5 p.m. on June 16 near a pond on the fire’s perimeter.
“It was apparent that it had some pretty severe injuries,” says Thorpe. “Bears, similar to a dog’s paw, have that tough skin on the bottom of their pads, and on several of them, the pad was sloughing off.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife employees were able to tranquilize the bear and load it into a cage. Thorpe says it’s unlikely the bear would have survived without intervention.
Thorpe estimates the male bear is about 1 year old. It was taken to the Frisco Creek Rehabilitation Center, the same place a bear cub was nursed back to health after being injured in the 416 Fire in 2018.
Veterinarians placed bandages on all four paws and will monitor the bear for 6-8 weeks.