2 bears burned in Calif. wildfires recovering after release back into wild

By Ray Downs  |  Feb. 18, 2018 at 8:55 PM
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Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The California Department of Fish & Wildlife released photos of one of two bears that recovered after getting badly burned in the state's wildfires.

The bears were released back into the wild last month after getting treated with tilapia-skin bandages on their burned paws.

On Tuesday, the CDFW released photos of the bears caught by trail cameras. The agency said the two female bears "are now mobile and appear to be doing well."

"The younger, smaller bear didn't stay long at her den and has been exploring her new surroundings," CDFW said in a Facebook post. "Her last GPS location was about 16 miles southeast from her release site, so she seems to be moving normally. The older bear, who was pregnant at the time of release, stayed near her den until Jan. 25. Her GPS coordinates indicate that she's still within a two-mile radius of the den, but when a CDFW biologist recently stopped by to check the trail cameras, the den was unoccupied and there was no sign of a cub."

The agency said the bear could still be pregnant or moved to another location with her cub.

The bears were found on separate occasions in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, Calif.in December. Both had third-degree burns on the skin of their paws, WBUR radio reported.

The tilapia skin treatment acts "like sort of a scaffold or matrix that allow the cells to kind of cross over that wound and help heal it properly," said Jamie Peyton, chief of the integrative medicine service at the University of California at Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, who conducted the surgery on the bears.

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