DURANGO, Colo. (AP) — A young bear rescued after suffering burns in a Colorado wildfire was released on Monday, wildlife officials said.
Wildlife officials received a report of a hurt bear roaming along the perimeter of a fire west of Durango on the line between La Plata and Montezuma counties on June 16.
Officials used a tranquilizer to immobilize the roughly 2-year-old male weighing less than 50 pounds (23 kilograms) before transporting the animal to the rehabilitation unit. There, it was determined that the injury happened a day or two before the bear was found. There were no signs of infection.
Within days, the bear was back on its feet, the Durango Herald reported. The bear’s paws healed over time and he gained more than 60 pounds (27 kilograms) — enough strength to proficiently climb trees in the pen officials set up for him.
Wildlife officials believe the bear is now well-equipped to survive on his own.
“Now, he’s got food, he’s got water, he’s got everything he needs,” Wildlife Officer Steve McClung said in a statement. “And I hope I never see him again.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials posted photos on social media Tuesday showing what the bear’s feet looked like when he was burned and another displaying the bear with bandages around its legs as it was recovering.
The so-called East Canyon Fire that injured the bear burned about 4.5 square miles (12 square kilometers) of land from June 14 to June 27.