WASATCH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – The famed Winnie the Pooh and his dear friend Piglet are filling in some big shoes by helping bring awareness of fire dangers in Wasatch County.
Wasatch County Fire said in a social media post that their original Smokey Bear sign was stolen from its post several months ago and they have not been able to get a new sign. Smokey Bear typically stands proudly with a shovel in hand to warn those passing by of the fire danger level in the area.
An anonymous citizen apparently took notice of Smokey’s absence and took matters into their own hands by painting a custom stand-in until Smokey can be returned to his post.
The stand-in features Winnie the Pooh, shovel in hand and wearing Smokey’s iconic park ranger hat. Instead of “Smokey” written across the front of the hat, in red lettering, the hat reads “Pooh.” Pooh Bear isn’t alone either as he is joined by his dear friend Piglet.
In the new sign, Piglet appears to be holding a lit torch, which one Facebook commenter noticed saying, “Smokey would not be impressed.”
Wasatch County Fire is asking the public for help with bringing the missing Smokey Bear sign home, asking whoever took the sign to “please return him.”
Smokey Bear has long been the face of wildfire prevention. Created in 1944, Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention is one of the longest-running public service campaigns in the United States. His renowned catchphrase – “Only YOU can prevent forest fires” – was coined in 1947 before being updated in 2001 to the simpler and more generalized “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
Winnie the Pooh has been around even longer, first appearing in a collection of children’s stories by A.A. Milne in 1926. Throughout the years, Pooh Bear gets into many “sticky situations” but with the help of his friends and Christopher Robin, Pooh Bear overcomes and lives happily in the Hundred Acre Wood.
Pooh Bear has been the center of some controversy in recent months. The loveable bear entered the public domain in January 2022. Since then, Pooh has starred in an R-rated horror film and was most recently found to be used in a book in Texas to teach kids about school shootings.
For now Pooh Bear is a welcome sight and stand-in for Smokey while the WildFire Prevention icon is missing.