BOISE -- A black bear cub injured in the Mustang Fire has a new home. He was transferred to the Idaho Humane Society in Boise Thursday night.
Doctor Jeff Rosenthal is now taking care of Boo Boo. He was found hiding up a tree, nursing 2nd-degree burns on all his feet.
Our first priority is to save his paws, and restore full function to his paws, said Rosenthal, who is also Executive Director of the Idaho Humane Society.
Idaho Fish and Game offices report being inundated with phone calls and e-mails from around the country concerning Boo Boo. His story is actually very similar to that of the real Smokey Bear, who was found hiding in a tree in 1950, burned in a New Mexico fire. Just like Smokey, he apparently provides an opportunity to spread a very important message.
He's a visible consequence of what can happen with wildfire, said Rosenthal.
Forest managers say this fire season, they can use all the help they can get.
It's been over 140,000 acres so far that have been burned through human-caused fires, said Cyd Weiland with the Boise National Forest. With the conditions we've had, it's been hot, it's been dry, it doesn't take much.
Also, Weiland says you can tell people to be smart with fire in the forest, but when you can show people a cute bear hurt by wildfire, that goes a long way.
When they see Boo Boo, they can see what can happen when fire gets out of control, said Weiland. Having Boo Boo, having Smokey Bear is a really good reminder to always be careful with fire.
Weiland also reminded people that stage one fire restrictions are in place, meaning that you can only have campfires in designated fire rings in campgrounds. Also, smoking is only permitted in cars or buildings.
The Humane Society hopes, after a month, they can transfer Boo Boo to a rehab facility. Then, perhaps he can be released back into the wild (that's why they're trying to limit his contact with humans during his treatment).