Cinder, an orphaned bear cub that was severely burned but had remarkably survived after one of the worst recorded wildfires in Washington state history was found dead, wildlife officials recently confirmed to news outlets.
The young bear was originally found under a horse trailer two weeks after the 2014 Carlton Complex Fire devastated Methow Valley. Cinder weighed only 34 pounds and was suffering from third-degree burns on all four paws. The burns were so severe she had to crawl on her elbows to get around.
After nearly a year of treatment at centers in California and Idaho and getting up to 124 pounds, she was set free in the mountains north of Leavenworth, Washington.
Cinder was collared with a tracking device but it stopped transmitting in October 2017, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife bear and cougar specialist Rich Beausoleil explained to Methow Valley News. The wildlife team thought the collar stopped working because Cinder was denning during the winter. A team set out to find Cinder’s den this September, but instead they found her remains not far from her release location. She was about 5 years old.
“Unfortunately, instead of finding a den, we found Cinder’s skeletal remains. It appears that she was killed in October 2017 by a hunter, who cut the collar, rendering it inoperable, and left it at the site,” Beausoleil told the publication.
Beausoleil told CBS News that Cinder’s story was an inspiration for Washington residents who suffered from the massive fire.
“She inspired them to rebuild and move on from the devastating Carlton Complex Fire,” he said. “I’ll always remember someone saying, ‘If Cinder can do it, then we can do it.’ That inspired me too.”
Her story is the subject of a children’s e-book called “Cinder the Bear: A True Story of Rescue, Recovery, Rehabilitation and Return.”
The Idaho Black Bear Rehab’s founder and president Sally Maughan also paid tribute to the famous bear.
“We will remember Cinder for the gentle, calm bear she was and for the pain and suffering and inspiration she became to so many humans,” Maughan wrote. “She touched our hearts, filled our souls with compassion and the undeniable desire to help her heal. She did heal, bringing us humans along with her – those who suffer in fire and lose so much. Our tribute to Cinder is to never forget her, to thank her for showing us how to heal in the worst of times, and for her courage and fight to survive to live free again.”
Cinder was released in June 2015 with a cub named Kaulana, who was also injured by wildfires. Sadly, the young male cub was also found killed by a hunter in 2015.