Fire fighters rescued a baby black bear after a Florida brush fire.
The foundling was found during the clearing operations after nearly 300-acre wildfire hit a rural residential close to the Ocala National Forest. The fire, which tore through 277 acres of Lake County, was properly contained after nearly 8 hours. Most of the homes nearby were evacuated. No structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the said forest houses the state's biggest population of Florida black bears.
The cub, named Smokey Junior or SJ, sustained facial and paw burns but Lake County Fire Rescue Batallion Chief Tony Cuellar said that the bear is fine.
"His airway seemed fine, he was acting fine... he was actually pretty calm," said Cuellar.
SJ, who is estimated to weight between 15 to 20 pounds, was handed over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for treatment and evaluation before releasing it into the wild.
Larry Connell of the Florida Forest Service thinks the cub will be alright.
A baby bear was singed during this afternoon's 250+ acre wildfire in Lake County. FWC will evaluate the cub. pic.twitter.com/fAPQgI6cmT
— Fire Rescue (@LakeFirePIO) April 7, 2016
"He is definitely survivable," Connell said.
Officials are also on the lookout for SJ's mother.
The population of black bears is seen to increase along with the human population making human-bear interaction more frequent. This has prompted Florida officials to implement stricter regulations to lessen the conflicts.
"Properly securing garbage and other attractants is the single most important action for reducing conflict situations with bears," said Richard Corbett who heads the FWC.
Black bears are the lone species that is known to reside in Florida. FWC estimates that Florida has about 4,350 black bears. The largest adult bear in Florida weighed 760 pounds. Their diet mainly consists of plants such as nuts, berries, and fruits.
Like other bears, these powerful mammals have short tails, round ears, and canine teeth. Black bears are also fast, as they can sprint up to 35 miles per hour.