July 20, 2008

Firefighter Saves Burned Bear Cub

A bear cub is recovering at a California animal center after a firefighter spotted it wobbling along the road on burned paws, officials say.

Adam Deem, 32, a forester with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, was driving Thursday through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest outside Redding, Calif., when he saw the black bear cub in the road, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Deem said noticed the lost cub had scorched fur and paws. He said he decided to take the cub with him after unsuccessfully trying to beckon its mother by copying the animal's cry.

Department of Fish and Game spokesman Steve Martarano said officials have seen increased numbers of young animals impacted by wildfires this year.

The dehydrated 8 1/2-pound cub, dubbed Lil' Smokey, was treated for third-degree burns and taken to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., the newspaper said.

Cheryl Millham, the center's executive director, said Lil' Smokey still has a lot of learning to do before he can ever be released.