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A bear cub was searching for the mother he lost during the Thompson Ridge Fire on the Valles Caldera National Preserve Sunday.
Firefighters working the line came across the cub a day earlier and decided to add him to their monitoring duties.
They watched from a distance as he climbed trees and scampered in and out of the tall grass. But when it became obvious a mother-cub reunion would not come in time to save the toddler’s life the firefighters called for help.
New Mexico Game and Fish Department was summoned to collect the cub and transported him to Española where he was placed in the care of Dr. Kathleen Ramsay DVM.
“The cub had first and second degree burns on his left rear foot and a second degree burn over his left eye” Ramsay said.
There was one major complication however.
“He wasn’t weaned,” Ramsay said.
Ramsay immediately began bottle feeding the bear which lasted for several days. Then one day he pushed the bottle away and began eating solid food.
“It was as if he was saying “I got this. I’ll take it from here,” she said.
Ramsay notes that another cub in her care has gained 24 pounds during the last three weeks. While the Valles Caldera cub (whom Ramsay affectionately refers to as “Redondo Bear’) might not grow that fast he does have a good start.
During the first week under Ramsay’s care, the cub has gained a pound and a half and now weighs 6.4 pounds.
Crews, meanwhile, are mopping up the Thompson Ridge Fire, which began May 31 because of a downed powerline.
The Forest Service issued its final update on the fire Wednesday. The Albuquerque Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team was scheduled to turn over management of the fire today. A type 4 Incident Management team will remain on the fire with several resources including a type 3 helicopter, 4 engines and 2 water tenders. The acreage of the fire was 23,965 and 95 percent contained.