Bear burned in Carr Fire, treated with fish skins returns to wild

Posted at 9:05 PM, Sep 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-16 00:05:23-04

A black bear cub that was burned in the deadly Carr Fire in Shasta County returned to the wild this week after undergoing an experimental fish-skin treatment.

The bear was discovered in August, lying in ash and unable to walk on its burned paws, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The cub was taken to the Wildlife Investigations Lab in Rancho Cordova, where it became the third wildfire-injured bear this year that vets have treated with a technique utilizing sterilized tilapia skins as natural bandages, Fish and Wildlife officials said. Fish and Wildlife veterinarian Dr. Deana Clifford and Dr. Jamie Peyton, with the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, collaborated on the bear’s treatment.

The bear’s paws were "sporting a healthy growth of new skin" Wednesday, officials wrote in an update on the bear’s condition on Facebook.

The bear grew restless during its monthlong treatment, officials said.

“She definitely does not like people, which is what we hoped for,” Clifford said. “Ideally, she’ll live out a normal life in the wild, and she’ll never interact with humans again.”

For the bear’s release, wildlife officials looked for a spot near a creek with flowing water and for an area not charred by wildfires, which was "no small task, considering much of her former habitat was destroyed in the Carr Fire, and the Delta Fire is still raging north of Redding," Fish and Wildlife said.

The bear also has a solar-powered wildlife telemetry GPS ear tag, which will allow Fish and Wildlife to monitor her. 

"We wish her well!" Fish and Wildlife concluded in their update.