GALLERY: Orphaned bear cubs burned in wildfires rehabilitated by PAWS

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — Hundreds of thousands of acres are burning across Eastern Washington, destroying natural habitats and displacing animals of all kinds. The PAWS Wildlife Center is drawing attention to injured and orphaned bear cubs who’ve lost their homes in these wildfires.

Experts from the PAWS Wildlife Center and the state’s Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, joined together for a news conference on Tuesday morning that highlighted the grave impact of these natural disasters.

One bear cub recovered from the Cedar Creek Wildfire in Mazama, Wash. was admitted to PAWS with second-degree burns on her face and feet on July 27.

“She’s an absolute trooper,” Dr. Rosenhagen, who has treated the poor bear cub, said during the news conference. “Her resilience is inspiring, and in spite of all of the trauma and stress she has endured, she’s acting as much like a normal bear cub as she can—eating, sleeping and even starting to play.”

Jennifer Convy (PAWS Senior Director of Wildlife, Companion Animal and Education Services) says that she hasn’t seen this many bears entering their facilities with severe burns in 25 years with the organization.

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Eastern Washington firefighters watched over the bear cub until a Bear & Cougar Specialists arrived to assume her care. Specialists believe this poor little cub got caught up in the fire because she was too small to stick with her mother. When the cub arrived in the care of PAWS specialists, she was extremely thin and had wounds on her face, ears, and paws.

This bear cub’s ears were severely damaged, and her face was so swollen that her eyes weren’t visible early into her treatment. After five procedures and plenty of medicine, her eyesight has been largely restored and many of her wounds are healing properly.

Just as this bear’s health was restored and she began socializing with other orphaned bear cubs, the PAWS staff received a call that two more severely burned bear cubs were rescued from the Twenty-Five Mile Fire in Lake Chelan.

The two bear cubs, who are confirmed to be siblings, were recovered with severe burns to their legs and feet.

“We are seeing more animals harmed by extreme heat and wildfires than ever before in our 50-year history as an organization,” says PAWS CEO Heidi Wills Yamada. “Certainly we know that people and property are harmed by wildfires, and the devastation affects wildlife too. It can feel overwhelming for people to see the destruction of these wildfires, but no one is powerless to help.”

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Franz herself visited Lynnwood to take a stand for the region’s wildlife during another unprecedented fire season—particularly across Eastern Washington.

“Wildfire threatens every corner and every community in the state, especially this year,” Franz said. “This fire season, we’re experiencing a historic number of fires: we have seen already more fires in 2021 than we saw in all of 2020, with more than 1,650 fires that have burned more than 630,000 acres. And the season is far from over—drought and extreme temperatures have left us at risk of heightened wildfire danger deep into September and October.”

PAWS is capable of saving animals in dire circumstances like the three we’ve mentioned here, but it comes at a price. These procedures accrue a heavy cost, and with limited staff/volunteers operating because of the pandemic, PAWS needs some help from the community.

“PAWS relies on the generosity of the community to help animals. Our resources are stretched thin and we are asking the public to please support our work by donating or volunteering for PAWS,” Yamada said.

The non-profit organization is accepting donations to support the care of injured and orphaned animals at PAWS Wildlife Center. To donate or learn more, click here.

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