September 6th, 2012
10:27 AM ET

Baby black bear healing after being burned in wildfire, officials say

Could Boo Boo be the next Smokey Bear?

Idaho officials say the popularity of a baby black bear given the name Boo Boo, who was rescued after being burned in a wildfire, may help remind people of the wide consequences of wildfires.

"People from all over the country have asked after the bear," Idaho Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale said. "Many have asked about contributing money to offset the cub's medical treatment costs."

Boo Boo was brought to the Idaho Humane society after firefighters found him last week while battling the Mustang Complex Fire that has scorched more than 250,000 acres in Idaho.

“He’s healing nicely,” Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, Director of the Idaho Humane Society said. “His pads and toes are no longer bleeding and new skin is already forming on the burned portions.”

Officials said the bear, which weighed 23 pounds when they first rescued it, is expected to make a full recovery. And Boo Boo is starting to act more like you'd expect of a black bear.

“Eating like a little pig, very feisty, and not very social,” Rosenthal said. “He charges the cage front whenever anyone gets near, trying to scare us off.”

Photos of the bear after he was rescued last week show how rescue workers wrapped his paws in red gauze and gave him medication.

KBOI: View more photos of Boo Boo

"When they see Boo Boo, they can see what can happen when fire gets out of control," Cyd Weiland with the Boise National Forest told CNN affiliate KTVB. "Having Boo Boo, having Smokey Bear, is a really good reminder to always be careful with fire."

After the bear was found, rescuers began to treat wounds on his paws.

The bear clung to a tree when rescuers first approached him and was hobbling on his paws.

"Fires burn in the woods and in the mountaintops, and it drives all the animals down," Larry Colozzi, an engine boss with the U.S. Forest Service Fire Department, told KTVB. "(Boo Boo) was on the trail hurt. We got about 10 or 15 feet from him and took some pictures of him and then we got a little closer and he kind of scampered up a tree. His paws were hurt so he was going kind of slow."

The executive director of the Idaho Humane Society said the bear will be treated by vets each day to make sure it heals, but they also have to make sure the bear doesn't get attached to those caring for him to ensure he can safely be returned to the wild.

"The first goal is to save Bernard, or Boo Boo's life, and the second priority is to try to make sure that he doesn't get used to being around people," Jeff Rosenthal told KTVB.

The Humane Society said it had received $1,000 in donations and food for the bear just over the past couple of days.

"The donations are very much appreciated, but what we really need now are berries of any kind, be they strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or whatever,” Rosenthal said. “But no more apples, please. We have enough donated apples to bake him an apple pie every day this month."

Post by:
Filed under: Fire • Idaho
soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Fiona

    I like animals far more than I like humans, yet I question the motives behind saving this bear. Burns are one of the most painful injuries, and a bear's paws are dense with nerve endings. This bear's future is likely not being released into the wild, no matter what is stated above. So the bear is rescued and treated, then used to promote changes in forest management policies by the USFS? And BooBoo likely ends up in a zoo or animal preserve. To me, that's causing suffering.

    September 6, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Aezel

      "This bear's future is likely not being released into the wild, no matter what is stated above."

      Well, I'd be glad to take you seriously after you post where you got your PhD in wildlife biology.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob

      So, are you saying they should have shot him when they founnd him?

      September 6, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Sinfully Yours

      Actually, scientists saved the bear so they could remove his burnt paws. They can then rebuild him and make him stronger...

      We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better...stronger...faster.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Fish

      If he ends up in a zoo or wild preserve is better that watch the poor thing slowly die from his injuries from a fire likely caused by humans. What would you suggest could have been done differently? They are doing everything they can to reduce human interaction while treating his wounds so he can be released into the wild. They will likely tag him and ensure he adapts. If he doesn't then yes he may end up alive in a wild preserve. Better than slowly dying...

      September 6, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • A

      I'm with Aezel.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      If you were suffering from burns to your hands and feet and were lost in the woods, would you prefer to:
      a) Slowly Die from infected burn wounds.
      b) Be shot in the head.
      c) Be treated and nursed back to heath, with the caveat that you may, or may not, live in captivity.

      I know which one I would pick.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob

      And I know which one would have been cruelest for the bear (a, for those of you with no empathy)

      Good point about "fire started by humans". It was, and the least the USFS could do is try to make at least something right.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Fiona...you must be a PETA member. Their philosophy is very much like yours. May as well kill it so that it doesnt get help is their mantra too.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      suffering to whom? if the bear cannot be returned to the wild, he will have an incredibly comfortable and pampered celebrity life, he will not languish in some horrid roadside zoo. he will not have to worry about being shot, starved, hit by a car, or burned to death in another fire. doesn't sound like a bad life to me. I am an animal activist vegetarian, but you "born free" people are blind to the suffering and short life spans of most wild animals.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Fiona

    Josie, you are confusing them with cats.

    September 6, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sinfully Yours

    Bears and cats?! Those are child's play. Now, rabbits! Those you need to worry about. They are evil creatures! Not only do the multiply like...well, rabbits! But have you seen those teeth?! They will gnaw your ankles off if you don't keep an eye on them!

    September 6, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I hope that "Sinfully Yours" was jesting.

      I have two pet rabbits and they are wonderful pets. While neutered, the male Erik is extremely protective of his mate, Bandit. They know their names, respond to some commands and have litter box trained themselves. Yes they have plenty of teeth and could hurt you if they wanted. They are herbivores (vegetarian) and grazers. Their enclosure in the family room is 11' by 7' with a ramp to another house above. They are so much in love with each other. They will groom me if I lie down in the enclosure. It is so gentle that I have actually fallen asleep.

      It does my heart good to see that kind people still exist, as helped the small bear.

      From my years as a teacher, we got psychological help for any student that was intentionally cruel to an animal, usually the family pet. This behavior is a very bad sign of societal maladjustment.

      September 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. killowatt23

    Rightwing troll nuts are even here. Go Away!!!

    September 6, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sinfully Yours

    D@mnit! Now you got me all hungry!

    September 6, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. paullubbock

    You save nothing. A bear is a creature of nature who serves a purpose in its environment and needs no excuses for survival one way or another. You on the other hand are a clueless person living off the spoils of society, contributing nothing but flippant responses of things you nothing about in a pointless blog. Suddenly, the bears live seems more important than yours.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike Smith

      A bear's life is certainly way more important than yours. If I had a choice between saving this bear's life and shooting you in the head, or shooting the bear in the head and saving your life, the remainder of your life would be measured in nanoseconds.

      September 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. alley

    Wow Josie how messed up are you. Killing machines. I'd be more afraid of you then a Bear.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    Poor guy, I am glad they are helping him!

    September 6, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. Michelle

    As long as y'all are kidding, you're cracking me up. On a serious note, I am glad to hear that this innocent victim is being humanely treated. It is totally possible that Boo Boo (I assume in reference to Yogi and Boo Boo bears) could become attached to his human caregivers and therefore, won't be able to return to the wild. The humane thing is not to just euthanize him. Yes, many zoos have a bad reputation. Hopefully, if he does have to go to a zoo, it's a good one.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. alpg49

    You are demonstrating the respect for facts that has come to define the Republican party in 2012.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. Brian

    It's Smokey THE Bear!

    September 6, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • SueB

      Actually, no. It's Winnie THE Pooh, but Smokey Bear. Everyone keeps trying to add the "the" but it's not part of the name!

      September 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ShatMeOutSideways

    Rather watch hours of Boo boo than a minute of Honey Boo boo!!! Ones a cub and the other is a pig!

    September 6, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      You beat me to it.
      Well done.

      I hope the little guy recovers.
      He's awfully cute.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aubrie

      Here here!! that "child" is scarey!!

      September 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      I suspect Honey Boo Boo and her awful family to be androids made by some warped and evil scientist in his lab under a pig barn.

      September 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Hogan's Goat

    And they never mention WHY they compared him to Smokey, who was found clinging to a burnt tree after a forest fire, too scared to come down, and was raised by humans to help publicize the need to stop people from throwing lit cigarettes out of their cars(really, people used to do that!). I met Smokey once and he was a pretty cool bear.

    September 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • BSDetector

      Was he wearing his ranger hat?

      September 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      They had him in a cage in the back of a pickup truck, and they drove him around like that. The ranger said he stuck his head out like a dog in the wind.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Safe in Texas

    Poor little cute baby. I sure hope he survives the cruelty of the humans that started that fire.

    September 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Squeezebox

    I hope Boo Boo's cartoon avatar speaks Spanish. It's the illegals who still throw litter on the ground and cigarettes out of cars.

    September 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hogan's Goat

      We can thank Lady Bird Johnson for the huge anti-littering campaign she started, which is still going on. Who could forget Smokey growling "extinguish that cigarette or I'll crush your butt?"

      September 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
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