In June 2008, firefighter Adam Deem rescued a burned and frightened bear cub in the aftermath of the Moon fire in Northern California. The cub, dubbed Li’l Smokey, was transported to LTWC for care.
Li’l Smokey was examined by LTWC volunteer vet Dr. Kevin Willitts and executive director Cheryl Millham. The little cub was in bad shape: his paws were severely burned, most of his claws were gone and he weighed only 8 pounds.
Because there were no documented cases of treating bear cubs with burned paws, LTWC used a different treatment solution on each paw to determine which would be the most effective. Smokey’s burns required intensive care, including frequent bandage changes and examination.
Over the next several months, the claws and pads on Smokey’s paws slowly regenerated and healed, and he began putting on weight just like a normal cub.
On February 5, 2009, Li’l Smokey was released back to the wild. He was tracked via ear tag for the first year and was found thriving as a wild bear.