UPDATE: After being rescued from an August 2012 wildfire in Eastern Idaho, an orphaned black bear cub named Boo Boo has finally returned to the wild. According to officials with the Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary in McCall, Boo Boo was released into the forests of central Idaho last week, healthy and 70 pounds heavier. Boo Boo was also released wearing a GPS collar in order to record his location over the next year. Read on to learn more about Boo Boo’s rehabilitation and see the heartwarming photos from his rescue below. — Global Animal
Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal
A four-month-old orphaned black bear cub is on his way to recovery after firefighters rescued him from an Idaho wildfire that destroyed more than 250,000 acres in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
The bear, nicknamed Boo Boo, was discovered clinging to a Fir tree and hobbling on his paws two weeks ago while firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game were battling the Mustang Complex Fire north of Boise. Suffering from second-degree burns and blisters on all four paws, Boo Boo was immediately taken to the Garden Valley Ranger Station where Wildlife veterinarian Mark Drew tended to the bear’s injuries. He was then brought to the Idaho Fish and Game’s Wildlife Health Laboratory where his paws were bandaged.
Weighing just 23 pounds, the cub had not eaten in days when rescuers found him. Fortunately, he has since recovered his appetite and his condition has continued to improve.
Director of the Idaho Humane Society Dr. Jeff Rosenthal says Boo Boo is healing nicely. With no signs of infection in his wounds, the cub is expected to make a full recovery.
Boo Boo has since moved to a new home with the Idaho Humane Society.
Efforts to find the cub’s mother have been unsuccessful but it is hoped the cub can be returned to the wild once his wounds have fully healed.
Rosenthal said the bear will be treated by vets each day, but they must make sure the cub doesn’t get too attached to humans to ensure a safe return to his natural habitat.
If Boo Boo cannot return to the wild, he will live at Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary near McCall, Idaho, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife. The 35-acre property has a large, two-acre enclosure and a one-acre enclosure house for large animals, including a natural habitat for bears.
“People from all over the country have asked after the bear,” Idaho Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale told CNN. “Many have asked about contributing money to offset the cub’s medical treatment costs.”
State officials have been swamped with calls and e-mails from people all over the country offering their support. The Humane Society said it had received $1,000 in donations and food for the bear in just a couple of days.
The United States has been struck by numerous wildfires this year—including 8,000,000 acres destroyed in western parts of the country.
Last week, firefighters rescued a baby bobcat from a California wildfire. The popularity of these two rescues may help remind people of the devastating consequences of wildfires.