SEATTLE — A black bear cub burned in a massive Washington state wildfire over the summer is moving to a rehabilitation facility in Idaho for the winter.
The cub, named Cinder, was found under a horse trailer in the Methow Valley, where the Carlton Complex — the largest fire in state history — burned about 400 square miles and destroyed 300 homes. Her paws were so badly burned she was walking on her elbows.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in California has been caring for Cinder. The center wrote on its Facebook page Friday that its veterinarian, Dr. Kevin Willitts, had released the bear from his care. He planned to show up early Sunday morning to immobilize the bear and perform one final examination before sending her on an eight-hour drive to the Idaho Black Bear Rehabilitation Center in Garden City, near Boise, to hibernate for the winter.
Cinder is expected to be released back into the wild in Washington state next spring, after her now-healed paws have a chance to toughen up, the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care said.
The Idaho Black Bear Rehabilitaton Center is already caring for another young bear, Koa, an orphaned cub found in Wyoming, at the request of state game officials there.
It said on its website it will initially keep Koa and Cinder in separate sections of its enclosure, but anticipates allowing them to hang out together eventually. “We are very excited for her arrival and for Koa to have a buddy,” the center wrote.
Methow resident Steve Love discovered Cinder, then 37 pounds, in his yard two weeks after the fire swept past his house.
A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer captured her, and a volunteer pilot flew Cinder to California on Aug. 4. Her bandages were removed for good Sept. 30, and she now weighs more than 80 pounds.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care successfully rehabilitated one other bear cub after a wildfire in 2009 and released him back to the wild. The center has said it knew from his radio tracker that he survived at least a year, until the batteries in the tracking device died.