Idaho vets volunteer to care for burned bear

BOISE, Idaho — Veterinary hospitals across southwestern Idaho are volunteering to care for a black bear cub rescued from a wildfire burning in the eastern Idaho backcountry.

The bear nicknamed “Boo Boo” needs daily care for second-degree burns on all four paws. Mark Drew, a veterinarian with the state Department of Fish and Game, said he is checking into a handful of facilities and hopes to pick a place for the bear soon.

The cub needs his bandages changed every day for at least four to six weeks to heal.

Boo Boo weighs about 25 pounds and is estimated to be 4 months old. He was discovered Sunday night clinging to a tree in a region recently scorched by a massive wildfire near Salmon. Efforts to find the bear’s mother were unsuccessful, officials said.

The cub likely hadn’t eaten for at least four days and couldn’t really walk when he was found, the Idaho Statesman reported. Officials had wanted to rehabilitate the bear at a wildlife sanctuary in McCall, but the extent of the burns requires more intensive care.

Boo Boo’s story is not unlike the tale of Smokey Bear, a cub that became a national symbol for fire prevention after he was found in a charred tree taking refuge from a New Mexico blaze in 1950. He was also treated for burned paws.

In Idaho, state wildlife officials report they’ve been flooded with calls from people wanting to help Boo Boo and that once they pick a veterinary hospital, they will let the public know how they can donate for the cub’s care.

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