KLAMATH FALLS, OR (KPTV) – As wildfires continue to burn in Oregon, it's likely to see some wildlife in areas people weren't expecting and potentially cubs that appear to be alone.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says if someone sees a cub or any baby animal, don't assume they're orphaned. Likely, the mother is away feeding, and it's more harmful to take it out of the wild.
Michelle Dennehy from ODFW said the little bear cub spotted near the Bootleg Fire was likely clinging to a tree because it was scared of the person taking the photo. She says it's common for wildlife to run away from areas affected by wildfires.
A police officer did see the mother close by and learned that the baby cub is back with her. The bear cub was likely 7 to 8 months old and looked healthy, so ODFW had no concerns.
This time of year, whether someone is near a wildfire or not, they shouldn't assume a baby animal is orphaned because it's usually not, according to Dennehy.
"Again, don't assume that if you see an animal alone that it's orphaned because it may not be. If you pick it up and take it home, you're basically risking its life because an animal like a bear that's raised by people loses its natural fear of people," she said. "And then we can't release it back to the wild because of the danger it poses."
If an animal is found to be burned, injured, or sick, that's when a person should call ODFW, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, or law enforcement. Go to myodfw.com for a list of offices near you.
Dennehy also says not to leave food or water for wild animals—this can spread disease more easily and cause animals to lose their natural fear of people. She also reminds people in these areas to bring in their pets and shelter livestock.