By Ann McCreary
Cinder, the young black bear that was badly burned in the Carlton Complex fire in 2014, is still denned at a high elevation site, but the bear that was released into the wild with her last summer was killed by a hunter in the fall.
Cinder, who just turned 3, was rescued by state wildlife officials in the Methow Valley and spent 10 months at two wildlife rehabilitation facilities recovering from severely burned paws. She was released in a heavily forested area about 30 miles north of Leavenworth on June 3, 2015.
A younger male bear was released along with Cinder. The two bears had been together at the Idaho Black Bear Rehabilitation center and seemed to have developed a bond, so wildlife officials decided to release them together.
Both bears wore GPS radio collars so that wildlife officials could track their movements.
The male bear, named Kaulana at the rehabilitation center, was almost 2 years old when he was shot during bear hunting season last October, said Rich Beausoleil, bear and cougar specialist for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“The hunter was completely legal and called to report it within a couple hours. He did everything right and was great to work with,” Beausoleil said.
Although the two bears were released at the same location, they did not stay together after they were set free, Beausoleil said. Cinder initially traveled several miles from the release site, but Kaulana stayed in the general area, he said.
Cinder “is doing great and like all the other collared bears she’s still denned up,” Beausoleil said last week.
“We know where she denned. It is a high elevation site, so she has not yet emerged — still quite a bit of snow up there. I am expecting her to emerge within the next month,” he said.
Beausoleil recommended that the public prepare for bears emerging from their dens by removing attractants such as garbage and bird feeders, and by cleaning up leftover fruit from last fall, to prevent interactions between bears and humans.
Cinder was discovered — emaciated and unable to walk on severely burned paws — in the French Creek area in August 2014, about two weeks after wildfire swept through the area.
The bear cub drew international attention after she was rescued by state wildlife officials and underwent months of treatment at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in California, followed by rehabilitation at Idaho Black Bear Rehabilitation near Boise.
Because of her long and painful recovery and her feisty personality, Cinder has been described as a “symbol of hope” for residents of the Methow Valley in the aftermath of the Carlton Complex Fire.