HAMILTON – “Boo Boo” the orphaned bear cub is finally out of the proverbial woods.
The 4-month-old black bear cub that was rescued from a tree in the path of a wildfire on the Salmon River, badly burned and with its mother nowhere in sight, is expected to make a full recovery.
The bear has been in the care of Idaho state veterinarian Mark Drew, and has recently been moved to the Idaho Humane Society in Boise and is doing very well.
“He’s healing nicely,” said Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, director of the Idaho Humane Society. “His pads and toes are no longer bleeding and new skin is already forming on the burned portions.”
The bear, nicknamed Boo Boo by the Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game workers who rescued him two weeks ago, suffered second-degree burns and blisters on all four paws during his escape from the 200,000-acre Mustang Complex wildfire.
According to Rosenthal, his injuries were so severe that his survival was questionable at first.
“He’s young, so he has great healing potential,” Rosenthal explained. “If his recovery continues at this pace, he could be ready to leave the Humane Society’s care in as little as two weeks.”
After changing the sedated bear’s foot dressings with fellow veterinarian Cheryl Garrett, Rosenthal told Idaho Fish and Game officials that the little bear has been cooperative.
“He pulled one of his bandages off last night, but that’s the only one he’s bothered since coming to our facility,” he said. “Nobody likes going to the hospital, certainly not wild animals, but he’s been a great patient.”
The bear, who hadn’t eaten anything for almost five days when he was found, weighed just 23 pounds at first but is making up for lost time.
“(He’s) eating like a little pig, very feisty, and not very social,” Rosenthal said. “He charges the cage front whenever anyone gets near, trying to scare us off.”
The young bear has become somewhat of a celebrity since news of his saga broke, and Idaho officials (not to mention the Ravalli Republic) have been inundated with calls and emails from around the country from people concerned about the bear’s health and offering monetary support.
According to Evin Oneale, the regional conservation educator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Idaho Humane Society has received more than $1,000 in donations for the bear’s care in just the last few days.
“The donations are very much appreciated, but what we really need now are berries of any kind, be they strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or whatever,” Rosenthal said. “But no more apples, please. We have enough donated apples to bake him an apple pie every day this month.”