Video: Paws healed, Cinder the bear is on her way back to the wilds of Washington

Staff at Idaho Black Bear Rehab, Inc., in Garden City on Tuesday prepared a young black bear that suffered scorched paws in a wildfire in 2014 to return home to Washington State.

Dr. Tim Murphy of Animals R Us did an exam of the 2.5-year-old bear, named Cinder. The bear put on about 25 pounds since arriving in November, and she now weighs 122 pounds.

Sally Maughan, who founded the nonprofit Idaho Black Bear Rehab about 26 years ago, said the claws on Cinder’s back paws have grown back and her pads have toughened up. She spent several months in hibernation.

In recent weeks, Cinder has become restless and appears to be fully ready to return to the wild, Maughan said. Officials at the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife will select the location where Cinder will be released.

“The thinking is to take them back where they came from, but that’s not always possible due to habitat, food supply, and in this case, fires and Cinder’s notoriety could be a problem with people trying to find and see her,” Maughan said. “We prefer and have understood that anyone on the release will be sworn to secrecy as to the location to protect the bears from unwanted attention.”

Cinder was found under a horse trailer in Methow Valley. She was first taken to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in California – where she was treated her for the severe burns on her paws – then transferred to Garden City to finish her rehabilitation.

It’s possible that if Cinder is released in the same area where she was found that she could encounter family. But bears are solitary, and Cinder would have been on her own by now if she hadn’t been injured.

“Males wander further to find their own territory once mom sends them on their way, while females can be accepted in the same area as their mother,” Maughan said.

Maughan said Cinder doesn’t have any longterm injuries that will affect her chances of survival.

Another orphaned bear from Washington state, Kaulana, was transported from Idaho Black Bear Rehab Tuesday. The 1.5-year-old male bear gained nearly 100 pounds since arriving in early December and now weighs 120 pounds.

Idaho Black Bear Rehab has housed up to 50 bears at one time. After the two bears were trucked out Tuesday morning, the rehab has just one left on site – a 1.5-year-old bear from Wyoming named Koa. Koa is expected to be sent home later this month.