Leaving bear with burned paws alone is best for the bear
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426
A male Florida black bear that appears to have burned his front
feet in a wildfire in the Mt. Plymouth area of Lake County will
likely fare well if he is left alone to heal, according to bear
biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
"Our hope is that the bear will hunker down undisturbed and out
of sight in thick cover so his burned paws can heal naturally,"
said Mike Orlando, assistant bear management coordinator for the
FWC. "He doesn't need to eat or drink right now because he already
has plenty of fat stored up for the winter hibernation."
Based on the video shot by a resident, and witness accounts, the
bear's only external injuries appear to be his front paws,
particularly his pads.
"We don't plan to try to locate him, because such
well-intentioned efforts would stress him and cause him to run,
which would likely cause more damage to his feet than if he can
just rest and heal," said Orlando. "His paws can heal naturally if
he is left alone in a bed or den deep in the woods."
When bears hibernate they go into a very lethargic state and,
even in Florida, can stay in one place for a couple of weeks, awake
but in a sort of sleepy state. According to Orlando, that is what
this bear was likely doing when the wildfire caught him by
surprise. Since his coat doesn't appear to be burned, it's likely
he avoided the blaze, but had to traverse hot, burned ground to
escape the fire.
"We hope he stays in a den and out of sight so his wounds can
heal quickly. However, if he does appear and people see him, we ask
that they leave him alone and call our Wildlife Alert Hotline -
888-404-3922 - to let us know the location," said Orlando.