The female cub and its brother had been orphaned after their mother was hit by a car. State wildlife officers were called when the cubs were seen rummaging around Darrington on July 9.
They found the cubs in a tree and a state Department of Fish and Wildlife officer accidentally hit the cub in the lung with the dart, said Mark Coleman, a spokesman for PAWS, a Lynnwood-based animal shelter and rescue organization.
"You ideally want to hit their midsection or posterior but they're kind of flying around up there," he said.
State wildlife officials could not be reached Monday.
Both cubs were quickly taken to PAWS in Lynnwood. The initial exam showed a small puncture wound on the left side of the cub's chest.
"The left lung was completely collapsed," according to PAWS veterinarian John Huckabee.
Veterinarians closed the wound and re-inflated the cub's lung, using the same procedure performed on humans, Coleman said. Many animals have come through the PAWS wildlife center over the years, including more than 70 bears, but this is the first time they've had to do surgery for a collapsed lung, he said.
Some animals are brought in with collapsed lungs but are already dead or they expire quickly, he said. Usually a collapsed lung is caused by a gunshot wound or an arrow strike. Without care, the animals rarely survive more than a few days.
Organization officials waited to make an announcement because they wanted to make sure the cub would live.
"We don't want to get people all emotionally invested because sometimes they don't make it," Coleman said.
The cub is eating and starting to gain weight. She's been reunited with her brother and the two will be housed at PAWS over the winter with the hopes of releasing them into the wild next spring, Coleman said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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