As wildfires ravage the world, wildlife is particularly vulnerable to fallout, including bears. And sometimes, we humans can be in the wrong place at the wrong time – even with the best of intentions.
Historically, brown bears roamed nearly the entirety of Europe and Asia. Today, populations only remain in a small group of countries. Turkey is one refuge for the Syrian brown bear, but wildfires have the populations on edge – just as they do us humans.
As a result, a rare, near-fatal bear mauling took place on August 23. That Monday, a volunteer firefighter was attempting to extinguish flames in the Kaz Mountains (Mount Ida). The range is in the northwestern province of Bahkesir, where brown bears still roam free.
The victim, Özkan Kaya, 28, thankfully survived. According to The Daily News, the bear would rush out of the flames and maul the volunteer before running away. Kaya received deep lacerations to his chest and leg alongside bone fractures, and was hospitalized as soon as possible. Thankfully, the outlet reports he is now in good condition, via doctors at the Edremit District state hospital.
The 28-year-old was battling the Kaz Mountains National Park wildfires as a volunteer when the ursine struck. His team believes the bear’s panic was due to the raging flames and smoke. They are most likely correct.
Wildfires are a part of nature, but cause immense loss for wildlife regardless. Those that survive do so on edge, and can exhibit irrational, aggressive behaviors due to stress, trauma, and pain/injury.
The Kaz Mountain Wildfire broke out early the morning of August 23. Firefighters continue to extinguish flames, and have made progress in containing it. To do so, four firefighting planes and 17 helicopters are in use. Within 24 hours, the fires were mostly contained to a localized area.
Wildfires Take Huge Tolls on Bears, Humans Alike
Thankfully, Turkey officials expect the fire to be completely under control soon, cites Daily News.
Here on the opposite side of the planet, our North American ursine species are battling much of the same. California’s Tamarack Wildfires are ravaging the state’s black bear population, and the story of one little bear cub’s survival is winning over the hearts of Outsiders everywhere.
This summer, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care’s staff would do everything in their power to help local wildlife amidst Tamarack’s flames. This includes taking in their first bear of the season – a black bear cub who’s sustained tragic injuries from the raging wildfire.
It began when LTWC took a call from a Lake Tahoe homeowner who was just returning to their property. All residents had been previously evacuated… Yet this family returned to their property to find a bear cub in their backyard.
The Good Samaritans made the call to LTWC around 7:30 p.m. that evening after noticing the cub was walking on its elbows due to extensive burns. Each of its little paws were charred and bright pink from burns.
Thankfully LTWC immediately came to the cub’s rescue, and you can read about it in full right here on Outsider.