Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Takes in Bear Cub that Burned Paws, Face in Washington Wildfire

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care received its 10th bear cub of the season Monday – a badly burned black bear cub rescued from a wildfire in Washington state.

According to Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the bear cub, now named “Cinder,” was found at a house destroyed in a fire in Methow Valley, which is near Wenatchee, Washington. Homeowner Steve Love told KOMO News his “dog was barking and horse was prancing and snorting” to sound an alarm. That’s when he first saw Cinder. 

“She was basically walking on her elbows because her paws had been burned from hot coals -- there are abrasions on her paws and a lot of other burns on her body that are healing already,” said Tom Millham, who runs Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care along with his wife, Cheryl.

According to the wildlife center’s vet, Cinder suffered the burns a week ago.

When Love first approached the cub, she made “menacing sounds” and backed away, but he was able to give her some apricots and water.

"Later in the evening, she was lying down making pitiful whimpering noises," Love told KOMO. "I got about six feet away, sat down and talked to it in a soothing way, telling it things would be okay. It seemed to make it feel better. It stopped making the noises."

Love alerted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, who captured and transported her to Wenatchee. State biologist Rich Beausoleil cared for the cub, dressing her 3rd degree burns and feeding her yogurt and dog food.

Millham said Cinder’s story reminds him about a cub named “Lil Smokey” the center rehabilitated in 2008 after he suffered burns in a California wildfire.

Pilots for Paws – a volunteer group of pilots – flew Cinder from Wenatchee to Tahoe Monday morning.

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“Burn victims suffer a lot of pain,” Millham said. “In addition, she’s not as heavy as she should be – she came in at 39 lbs, but our vet says that since she’s a year and a half, she should be at least 80 lbs. Our job is to get some weight on her so she can be released back to Washington.”

Millham said the center would care for her until her paws and other burns are healed so she can go back to climbing and digging and doing other “bear things.” Right now, Cinder is on a diet of watermelons, peaches, apples and nectarines.

“She ate everything in a heartbeat – she has a great appetite, so that’s a good sign,” Millham said.

Follow Lake Tahoe WIldlife Care on Facebook to stay up-to-date on how Cinder is doing.

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