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Bear that recovered from wildfire burns is killed by hunter

A young black bear that was nursed back to health after she suffered severe burns in a 2014 Washington wildfire has been killed by a hunter, wildlife officials confirm. Cinder the bear, who gained widespread attention during her recovery, was found shot to death and her tracking device disabled, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife official told CBS News.

The department's bear specialist, Rich Beausoleil, said Cinder's radio collar stopped transmitting in October 2017, but he hoped it was because she was holed up in a den somewhere within the Cascades for the winter. This September, a team set out to find Cinder's den and instead found her skeletal remains not far from where she was set free after her recovery.

Beausoleil said it appears the collar stopped working because a hunter shot her and cut the collar, rendering it inoperable.

A black bear severely burned in a wildfire in 2014 in Central Washington was expected to be released back into the wild June 3, 2015.
Cinder, a black bear severely burned in a wildfire in Washington state in 2014, was released back into the wild in June 2015. Obtained by KIRO-TV

He told CBS News that Cinder did a lot to lift the morale of residents impacted by one of the most devastating wildfires in Washington state's history.

"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." 

"CBS This Morning" told the story of Cinder's recovery in June 2015. She survived the massive wildfire but was found with all four of her paws badly burned and could barely walk.

"It was the worst burns I've ever seen," veterinarian Randy Hein told "CBS This Morning." "My gut feeling was that the bear would live, but I didn't know if she'd ever be able to be released into the wild because of how badly damaged and burned her paws were."

Saving Cinder: The fight to save a bear after a devastating fire

Cinder was flown first to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in California, which specializes in treating burns, and then to a rehab center in Idaho, where she became friends with another cub –– an important step of her recovery. She was later driven back to to Washington state with her new friend. 

Beausoleil said at the time he thought Cinder's recovery was "incredible." Cinder went from 34 pounds when she was found to 124 pounds before she was released back into the wild. Her story was so inspiring that a local author published a children's e-book called "Cinder the Bear: A True Story of Rescue, Recovery, Rehabilitation and Return."

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