Missoula firefighters rescue ‘Cinder’ the elk calf from New Mexico forest fire ashes

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A newborn elk calf affectionately named “Cinder” was discovered in a remote, fire-ash area of the Sangria de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, New Mexico last weekend by Missoula firefighter, Nate Sink. The calf had been abandoned by its mother after the fires raged across 486 miles of dried forests. Nate had been on patrol and had been extinguishing hot spots when he found the defenseless calf.

“She was lying quietly in a six-inch deep layer of white ash, surrounded by the blackened remains of fir trees.” The Missoula crew observed her for an hour, in hopes that her mother would return. Eventually, they approached, and finding no adult elk tracks nearby, they sought help for little “Cinder” down the road in Upper Rociada.

Nate Sink on Facebook

Sink searched the entire area for the calf’s mother, but found no traces that she had been anywhere close to Cinder’s location. The 32-pound calf had been singed by the fire and was moved to a temporary wildlife rehabilitation center; her umbilical cord still attached. Their family veterinarian, Dr. Bill Brainard, helped to rehydrate the baby with condensed milk and water until specially formulated milk could be obtained.

The calf was then placed in the care of Dr. Ramsey, of the New Mexico Wildlife Center in Espanola, New Mexico where she is being cared for at the Cottonwood Veterinary Clinic. A surrogate mother elk has taken over the duties of caring for the baby. Cinder will spend an estimated four months at the refuge before being released back into the wild.

Her rescuers from the area where she was found welcome her back to the local forest when she is old enough and strong enough to be freed.

And another life saved thanks to our brave and compassionate firefighters.

(Photos via Nate Sink and the Missoula Fire Department Facebook)

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