The familiar figure of Smokey Bear first appeared on a forest fire prevention poster that was issued Aug. 9, 1944. That date has always been celebrated as Smokey's birthday, which makes him 71 years old today.
Smokey is still at work, reminding Americans that "Only you can prevent wildfires." He is featured on his own website, providing information about wildfire prevention, and operating a real-time wildfire map that tracks current wildfires in the United States. Smokey also has a Facebook page that has recent postings about his upcoming birthday.
When the 20¢ commemorative stamp honoring Smokey was issued Aug. 13, 1984, it showed Smokey wearing his ranger hat and holding a shovel. In the foreground is a smaller portrait of a bear cub clinging to a burned tree. That image is a tribute to an injured cub found in Capitan, N.M., following a 17,000-acre forest fire there in 1950. The cub was nicknamed Smokey and for many years served as a mascot for forest fire prevention efforts while living in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
The Smokey Bear commemorative stamp (Scott 2096) was issued in Capitan.