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Young bear injured in East Canyon Fire in southwest Colorado

Parks officers said the bear is being treated at a rehab facility in Del Norte and is expected to make a full recovery.

DURANGO, Colo. — A young bear is recovering from injuries it suffered in the East Canyon Fire burning in southwestern Colorado.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said the male bear, which is about one year old, suffered burns to its paws.

Parks officers were called by fire dispatch after firefighters reported seeing the injured bear walk across a meadow and into reeds next to a pond. 

Firefighters told officers the bear came from Cherry Creek Road area, which is on the east side of the fire. The East Canyon Fire is burning about 30 miles east of Durango.

“Across the road from where we found it the area was burned heavily,” Wildlife Officer Steve McClung said in a news release. “There were little spot fires and some stumps burning. We can’t say exactly what happened, but it probably got caught and had to move across some hot spots.”

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Credit: Colorado Parks & Wildlife

CPW said wildlife officers McClung and Andy Brown, and area wildlife manager Matt Thorpe, spotted the bear and approached it. The bear didn't move when the men neared.

"You could tell it was really hurting," McClung said.

The officers used poles to push back the reeds the bear was laying in to give it a tranquilizer, according to CPW.

The officers examined the 43-pound yearling and found its paws were burned.

Officers loaded the bear into a trap and took it to the Frisco Creek rehab facility for treatment.

Michael Sirochman, veterinary manager at Frisco Creek, said that while the bear suffered burned paws, the injuries were not deep enough to leave the bear permanently injured.

“The prognosis is good and the underlying tissue is healthy,” Sirochman said. “We cut off the burned tissue that was sloughing off and we put on bandages.”

Sirochman said the bear should be healed and ready for release in about two months. 

CPW said this is the second rescue of a burned bear that Durango officers have been a part of in the past two years.

In 2018, officers found a bear cub that had burned paws from the 416 Fire.

That bear was also taken to Frisco Creek, made a full recovery and was released back into the wild in January 2019.

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