LEAVENWORTH The bear cub found severely burned and barely alive in the aftermath of the Carlton Complex wildfire last summer returned to the wild today.
"Cinder" and another orphaned bear were released in a remote area of the North Cascades 40 miles north of Leavenworth.
State Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Rich Beausoleil oversaw the release of the two cubs.
The North Cascades are home for both bears — Cinder was found in the burn area of Okanogan County and the second cub was rescued in the Leavenworth area.
Cinder and the second cub arrived back in North-Central Washington late Monday after spending months in the care of the Idaho Black Bear Rehab Center in Garden City, Idaho.
Prior to their release, both were checked by veterinarians. The checkups took place in Swakane Canyon near Entiat.
Game enforcement Sgt. Dan Christensen said Cinder couldn't return home "because of the habitat loss" from the wildfire.
Cinder was found by Okanogan County resident Steve Love about two weeks after wildfire swept through the region following July 14 lightning strikes.
Love contacted Fish and Wildlife officials and officer Jason Day responded and captured the injured black bear cub.
At the time, the bear was believed to be about a year old and Day was previously a game officer based in Tonasket; he’s now stationed in the Methow Valley.
The burned cub was transported initially to Wenatchee, then flown to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Center in California for treatment of its burns. Cinder was then flown to Lake Tahoe on Aug. 4.
The bear’s wounded paws were treated and bandaged there by veterinary staff. The bandages were removed Sept. 30.
In November, Veterinarian Kevin Willitts transferred the bear to the Idaho Black Bear Rehab Center.