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Bear hurt in forest fire near Durango released back into the wild

The bear has well-developed instincts to survive in the wild and no tracking devices were placed on the bear, CPW said.

DURANGO, Colo. — A bear injured in a wildfire west of Durango in June has healed and was released into the wild on Monday.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers took the bear to a remote location not far from where it was found. CPW said the bear hesitated for about a minute while it sniffed its new surroundings before it dashed from a pickup truck into the cover of the aspen forest.

“Now he’s got food, he’s got water, he’s got everything he needs,” said CPW officer Steve McClung, “And I hope I never see him again.”

Firefighters on the East Canyon Fire found the injured bear June 16 and notified CPW's Durango office. The bear did not move, indicating it was in a lot of pain, according to CPW.

The 2-year-old male bear was tranquilized and taken to CPW’s Frisco Creek wildlife rehabilitation facility in Del Norte.

Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Technicians cleaned the bear’s paws, applied salves to treat the burns and wrapped its feet. The bear was kept in a pen with concrete floors to ensure the wounds stayed clean, CPW said.

Fortunately, the bear did not tear off the bandages, as a bear rescued from a fire two years ago had done.

“He was a good patient,” said Michael Sirochman, a veterinary technician and manager of the Frisco Creek facility.

The bear’s bandages were changed 16 times from mid-June to mid-July. The bear was given a pen with trees to climb and places to hide.

Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

“He’s now about the weight he should be for a 2-year-old bear and is in good shape for going into the fall,” Sirochman said.

CPW said the bear has well-developed instincts to survive in the wild and no tracking devices was placed on it. The bear is now on its own.

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Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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