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Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday Night Soother

by digby

Animals in the heat:

Here's a good news story from the California fire:

A young black bear whose paws were burned raw in the Carr Fire is recuperating with special care from a wildlife veterinary team.

The yearling bear cub was found Thursday licking her burned paws beside Crystal Creek in the mountains west of Whiskeytown Lake during the massive Northern California wildfire that's so far burned over 172,000 acres.

A crew working to fix damaged utility poles came across the injured animal late in the day and got ahold of wildlife experts right away. One of the workers took a short video of the bundle of black fur near the creek.

"She sure is cute. She's a beautiful creature," said Kirsten Macintyre, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The field workers, under contract to Pacific Gas and Electric, found the 50-pound animal sitting near ash and unable to walk, Macintyre said. The crew got in touch with a Lake Tahoe wildlife rehabilitation center, which in turn contacted the state agency.

"The workers said the bear was crying. We don't know if she was really crying or just being defensive," said Jeff Stoddard, a DFW environmental program manager who helped carry the bear to safety and delivered her to a state wildlife lab in Rancho Cordova on Friday morning.

Stoddard and co-worker Eric Haney met up with DFW wildlife officers Lt. Peter Blake and warden Monty Cervelli and got permission to go behind the fire lines at the barricaded Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

They used directions from PG&E and followed the utility workers' footprints to the spot near the former Crystal Creek Boys Ranch detention center.

"It took a little while but we found the bear," Stoddard said.

He said the bear was holding her hind foot up in pain and cleaning her paws with her tongue.

"A rock was burned within two feet of her. She was in a little patch of green," Stoddard said. "Being a small bear, she was hidden pretty well."

He thinks she either burned her paws walking in hot ash or on hot rocks. The top of one paw is singed, indicating she may have stepped directly into flames.

The bear couldn't stand or walk and, considering fire still was raging nearby, the rescuers decided she shouldn't be left alone.

Haney tranquilized the bear with darts and the group carried her out through brush and trees. They texted the DFW's Dr. Deana Clifford and sent her photos so she could evaluate the bear's condition.

Once they determined the bear had a chance to survive, the DFW kept her overnight in an air-conditioned enclosure and gave her some watermelon.

On Friday morning Stoddard drove the bear for three and a half hours to the Rancho Cordova facility to begin treatment.

The bear is angry and aggressive toward the staff, which Stoddard says is an encouraging sign that shows the bear's wild nature. "She's really unhappy when people come by," he said.

Wildlife officials don't want her to feel domesticated because the goal is to release her back into the forest.

"The goal is 100 percent to relocate it back into the wild," Stoddard said. "We don't want a captive animal."

At the wildlife center, staff members put salve on the red, wounded paws, applied an antibiotic ointment and gave her anesthesia.

"The good news is she's in really good shape. She's got good body weight and wasn't too dehydrated," Clifford said.