18 Jan 2008, 1258 hrs IST,AP
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A 3-year-old male black bear has undergone facial reconstruction
surgery to close a gunshot wound, and could be released back into
the wild later this year.
Jeff D. Brourman, a small-animal surgeon, on
Wednesday performed a two-hour skin-flap procedure that closed a
2-inch (5-centimeter) hole that exposed the 150-pound (68-kilo)
bear's sinus cavity.
"With that open hole, we were afraid an infection
might go into his brain,'' John Beecham, a volunteer with Idaho
Black Bear Rehab, told the Idaho Statesman.
The facility in Garden City in southwest Idaho is
caring for the bear, one of 53 the group took in during 2007.
The surgery required about 40 stitches and left a
curving 8-inch (20-centimeter) scar on the bear's shaved face.
The bear was near a central Idaho campground near
Stanley last summer when it was trapped by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife
The worker noticed the bear's injury and contacted
the bear rehab center. At that time, around late August, a
veterinarian removed shrapnel and cleaned the wound.
Brourman said the surgery was planned for this
winter so that the bear, in its natural hibernation period, might be
less likely to pull out the stitches, which will be removed in two