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Bad News Bears: Video Captures Cubs Being Yanked from Tree 

Two weeks ago, a video recorded by a concerned bystander captured a group of people at an apartment complex in Asheville, N.C., attempting to pull bear cubs out of a tree. In the video, the people can be seen yanking the bear cubs and taking pictures with them, until one woman drops a cub after seemingly being bit. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) was contacted and responded to the incident. 

Bear Cub Harassed from N.C. Wildlife on Vimeo.

“This time of year, mother bears are emerging from their den with their cubs that are experiencing the outside world for the first time and are very dependent on their mother to feed and protect them,” Game Mammals and Surveys Supervisor Colleen Olfenbuttel said in a statement. “People who try to capture or handle a cub are not only risking the cub’s safety but their own if the mother bear is nearby, as she may try to defend her cubs.” 

According to NCWRC, by the time their officers arrived at the scene, both cubs reportedly escaped. Officials found one of the cubs later that day in a retention pond appearing lethargic, cold, and injured, favoring one paw. NCWRC officials brought it to a licensed cub rehabilitation facility, the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge Center,​​ with the goal being to release it back into the wild in the fall. The other cub in the incident was never located.

“The [found] cub’s condition is likely a result of the unnecessary and irresponsible actions of the people involved,” Olfenbuttel said. 

Photo of the captured bear being transported to a rehabilitation center. Photo courtesy of NCWRC.

As of this week, the female cub has been improving and is currently on track to be released this year, according to representatives from the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge Center. The bear has been introduced to another orphaned cub that was already being cared for at the location.

The orphaned cub during her intake exam the day she arrived at the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge facility. Photo courtesy of Appalachian Wildlife Refuge.

“Both cubs are thriving and doing well in care,” Appalachian Wildlife Refuge Executive Director Savannah Trantham told CBS news. “They are eating well and interacting with enrichment, doing all the things we hope to see with young cubs.”

No charges were filed against the group of people, after an investigation by NCWRC determined the event was isolated and that the bears were immediately released. Though they did not press charges, the NCWRC has been urging the public to learn from this unfortunate event by posting wildlife safety and support information while reminding that interacting with bears, “often does not end well for people or the bear.”

Cover photo: Screenshot taken from video of the event. Courtesy of NCWRC 

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