Bobcat and bear rescued by firefighters, recovering, will be released

Chips bobcat rescued
Chips bobcat rescued
Mad River crew Superintendent Tad Hair holds Chips, a rescued bobcat. Photo by US Forest Service

You may have heard about Chips and Boo Boo, the bobcat kitten and bear cub that were found with burn injuries on wildfires last August.

In both cases wildland firefighters found and rescued the young critters, which were then treated for their burns and rehabilitated by wildlife rescue organizations.

Chips was found August 24 by members of the Mad River hand crew on the fire that inspired the name of the bobcat, the Chips Fire, burning on the Lassen and Plumas National forests in California. Not wanting to disrupt a natural process, the crew tried to walk away but the bobcat followed them. When they stopped it curled up on the boots of crew superintendent Tad Hair. The crew searched for tracks that belonged to its mother and found none. A closer assessment revealed that the kitten had burned paws and eye injuries so they rescued it and contacted Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, a nonprofit organization that rehabilitates injured or orphaned wildlife and returns them to the wild.

Chips has now recovered from her wounds and will eventually be released into the wild, hopefully next spring. One obstacle that must be overcome is her tendency to be friendly with humans. She has been introduced to two male bobcats who hiss and bare their claws at people and is being taught to hunt by having to chase down live mice.

Boo Boo Bear
Boo Boo, shortly after being rescued. Photo by Karen Dunlap, USFS

Boo Boo the bear cub was also found by firefighters on August 24, but on the Mustang Complex Fire in Idaho. Like Chips, Boo Boo had burned paws. An Idaho Fish and Game Officer and a member of the Whiskey Flats Crew took the cub to the Garden Valley Ranger Station, and later transferred it to the nonprofit Snowden Wildlife Sanctuary in McCall, Idaho.

Boo Boo’s paws are still sensitive but the cub is climbing trees and playing with five other orphaned cubs in a two-acre enclosure in the sanctuary. The plan is to release it into the wild in June after hunting season ends.

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Thanks go out to Kelly

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

4 thoughts on “Bobcat and bear rescued by firefighters, recovering, will be released”

  1. To heck with the natural process. These baby animals need to be rescued. Everybody is real big on being firefighters. We very much like to toot are own whistles on any ocassion that we can and I for the most part don’t think its a bad idea. So remember, being a firefighter is number one is about trying to save things and that includes these baby animals. The methods they use today to rehab these animals make it very likely they will survive back in the wild.

  2. Great work saving Chips! I volunteer at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care (LTWC) where she went. So I got to take care of her for several months. Amazing animal and I hope she can be released back into the wild!

  3. It is a hard thing to walk away to respect the natural process but this time they did the right thing, both these animals needed rescuing or they would suffer a painful death with no mother to care for them & even if they did she may kill the injured ones. Not because they are cute while babies but to leave any creature in that situation would be cruel & needless. Hopefully they can both eventually go back to their natural habitat with the excellent care they are receiving. Well done all of you.

  4. “Not wanting to disrupt a natural process […]”

    Fire suppression disrupts a natural process.

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