Andrew R. Di Salvo; UC Davis, California Department of Fish & Wildlife; Wildlife Health Center, 1089 Veterinary Medicine Drive, VM3B, Davis, CA, 95616; (530) 219-7599;; Jamie L. Peyton, Deana L. Clifford
Three bears suffering burns to their paws caused by wildfires were rescued and treated at the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) Wildlife Investigations Laboratory. CDFW and the UC Davis Integrative Medicine service employed the latest therapies to manage pain and accelerate healing, including specially formulated medications, laser therapy, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, and acupuncture. Additionally, sterilized tilapia skin was applied directly to the burns to establish a "biologic bandage" on each paw. Tilapia skin grafts have previously been used to successfully treat human burn patients in Brazil, but to our knowledge this is the first time it has been used on animals. Collagen in the tilapia skin promotes wound healing and tissue regeneration, while the rough outer layer protects exposed nerve endings and reduces pain. All bears were successfully treated and returned to the wild within two months of their rescue. Two of the three bears have survived since their release in January 2018, while the survival status of the bear released in September 2018 is unknown. By employing novel therapies to accelerate healing, we hope to decrease the time injured wildlife spends in captivity, thereby minimizing habituation and maximizing an animal's chance of returning to the wild.
Poster Session