California, USA — A little bundle of frightened and singed fur, dubbed Smokey Jr., was rescued this morning from the hot ashes of the Moon Fire.
A 15-pound badly dehydrated bear cub was suffering serious burns to all four paws and crying for its missing mother, when it was found late Thursday morning by a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighter.
The cub, which also had an eye injury, has been taken to a wildlife rescue shelter in Rancho Cordova where it is hoped it will be nursed back to health.
Doug Lannon, a Cal Fire battalion chief and public information officer for the Shasta-Trinity Lightning Complex, said that field observer Adam Deem, 32, of Anderson, came across the cub while scouting the northwest flank of the Moon Fire in the Grass Valley Creek area near the Buckhorn Summit.
Deem is a forester for Cal Fires California Northern Region Office,
He was tottering down the trail, said Deem, who initially pulled out his camera to photograph the six- to eight-week-old bear cub.
Adam Deem holds Smokey Jr., a bear cub he found today that was suffering burns to all four paws and crying for its missing mother (Photo courtesy of Doug Lannon)
Smokey Jr. sits in the arms of his rescuer, Adam Deem (Photo courtesy of Doug Lannon)
But then Deem noticed that the little bear was hurt.
The bear lifted its paw and held it in the air. It was then that Deem saw the red, raw pads of its paw.
Deem searched the area for the cubs missing mother, but couldnt find her. Eventually he as able to grab the scared and injured cub, though he scratched his hands as he tracked it through heavy brush.
After wrapping the bear in his fire-fighting jacket, Deem said he cradled it in his arms as he drove his pickup to a fire-fighting staging area. From there he and the cub were driven to a Fire Incident Command Center at the Shasta District Fair grounds in Anderson.
He was really scared, Deem said, adding that he comforted, petted and sweet-talked the little cub all the way to the command center,
The bear was treated for its dehydration by the medical unit at the command center, where it also enjoyed licking a lollipop before a state Fish & Game wildlife biologist picked it up for the trip to the Sacramento area rescue shelter.
He (Deem) had a pretty good rapport with it, said Lannon. They bonded very well.
He was giving me some kisses, Deem said.
Unfortunately, some of those licks were on Deems scratched hands, which later forced him to undergo preventative treatment for rabies at Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding.
Deem said he had to have five rabies shots, and will need four more treatments, or four more total shots, through next month.
But the shots did not hurt all that much and hes unfazed by the additional ones he will need, he said.
Its absolutely worth it, Deem said. I dont think anyone could have left that animal out there in that condition.
The cubs plight is similar to that of the original Smokey Bear, who was rescued by firefighters in 1950 in New Mexico.
Deems 33-year-old wife, Celeste, is more than a little proud of her husband.
I think its great, she said. He is the total animal person.
She said shes certain that her husband had no second thoughts about rescuing the injured animal, despite the rabies shots he will continue to need.
My dad says thats the price you have to pay for being a hero, she said.
Deem, who said he was at the Shasta Regional Medical Center for about an hour Thursday afternoon, did not know the bears condition or if it will survive.