August 10, 2018 – State wildlife officers and a UC Davis veterinarian have again used fish skins and other novel forms of pain management to treat a wild animal: a bear cub injured in the Carr Fire.

Jamie Peyton, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, used tilapia skins as bandages on the burned paws of a year-old cub discovered last week by a PG&E contractor near Redding. She also used cold laser therapy, acupuncture and a salve to ease the bear’s pain, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

The female bear cub was found lying in ash on Aug. 2 near Whiskeytown, and state wildlife officers and staff drove her to a Rancho Cordova facility for treatment. She showed a healthy appetite, but wasn’t able to walk on her injured paws.

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“Generally speaking, an animal that has survived a fire and is walking around on its own should be left alone, but that wasn’t the case here,” said Jeff Stoddard, an environmental program manager and acting regional manager with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The cub is the third bear to receive this kind of treatment from Peyton and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Two bears injured in the Thomas Fire in January were released back into the wild after having the sterilized fish skin bandages applied to their paws, and GPS tracking shows them doing well, state wildlife officers said.

“This little bear is younger and spunkier than the two bears we treated in January, which is kind of a mixed blessing,” said Deana Clifford, a senior wildlife veterinarian with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and an assistant clinical professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine who is overseeing the cub’s care. “She’s very healthy other than her burned paws, but she’s also very active, and we may find that she is more curious and takes the bandages off much faster than our previous patients did. We’ll need to monitor her closely and adjust treatment as necessary, but we’re optimistic that she’ll make a full recovery in due time.”