An emaciated and wounded young bear has been rescued and taken to a rehabilitation facility by wildlife officials in Colorado.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said on Facebook that it had received multiple calls from members of the public who had spotted the bear north of Durango—a city in the southwest of the state.
Eyewitnesses said the bear was walking around and eating from birdfeeders, according to CPW.
Local wildlife officers were able to find the animal and safely tranquilize it.
Officials said the bear cub was “extremely emaciated” and had suffered multiple injuries on its paws.
Images released by CPW show that some of the paws are missing patches of skin, although it is not yet clear what caused the wounds, a CPW spokesperson told Newsweek.
The spokesperson identified the cub as an American black bear (Ursus americanus)—the smallest and most common bear species on the North American continent. While these bears are usually black, their fur can also be various shades of brown.
Officials took the bear to the Frisco Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Del Norte.
The agency said staff at the center would evaluate the bear’s injuries and administer treatment where necessary.
The bear will spend the rest of winter at the center and staff are hoping to release it back into the wild in the spring.
The center has helped to rehabilitate many bears and return them to the wild since it was established in 1989 by a husband-and-wife team.
The couple—Susan Dieterich and her husband Herman, who died in 2003—received state and federal licenses to treat injured wildlife shortly after setting up the center, Colorado Central Magazine reported.
The center is designed to provide conditions as similar as possible to the wild environment that the animals recognize, KUSA reported. This increases the chances of a successful release back to the wild.
The CPW spokesperson said officials were “unsure” of why the bear was alone without its mother.
“Bears are currently in hibernation here in Colorado. There were no signs of the sow being up and active in the area. It is common for bears to come out of hibernation and go on walkabouts for a day or two, but this bear was in poor body condition and looking for food,” the spokesperson told Newsweek.
‘Emaciated’ Young Bear With Multiple Injuries Rescued by Colorado Wildlife Officials The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Newsweek.