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2 bears treated for burns from Thomas Fire appear to be doing well back in the wild

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the two bears that were treated for burns and released back into the wild appear to be doing well.  (Courtesy: California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the two bears that were treated for burns and released back into the wild appear to be doing well.

The bears were brought into Rancho Cordova for unusual treatment after they were found with burns from the Thomas Fire.

Dr. Jamie Peyton, Chief of Integrative Medicine at the UC Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital, created a homemade burn salve for the two bears' paws, and a process for sterilizing tilapia skin.

To help keep the tilapia skin in place, the CDFW says Peyton cut pieces to exactly match the size of the bear’s paws and then sutured them over the wounds while the bear was under anesthesia. Additional temporary wrappings, including rice paper and corn husks, were added, with the intention of stretching out the amount of time it would take for the animal to chew down to the fish skin bandage.

After several weeks of intensive care, the two bears were released back into the wild in Southern California.

The CDFW says the younger, smaller bear didn't stay long in her den and has been exploring her new surroundings. Her last GPS location was about 16 miles southeast from her release site. Officials say 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 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.

Officials say her due date was unknown, so she could still be pregnant, or she may have moved somewhere else and hidden her cub.



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