Happy Ending for Bear Cub Stolen From Family by Selfie-Takers


There’s been a happy ending, or at least a best case scenario, for a bear cub that was pulled from a tree in North Carolina so a group of people could take selfies with it.

The incident, which was was filmed by bystanders in Asheville, NC last month, sparked widespread outrage. The footage shows a group of about a half dozen people ripping three tiny cubs from a tree behind a fence adjacent to an apartment complex and then excitedly holding them and taking photos. At one point near the end of the video, a woman holding one of the cubs dropped in on the ground and it could be seen running away frantically, unable to get back to the safety of the tree.

Officials from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) arrived on the scene soon after and found the “”very wet and cold” cub, which was then brought to the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge on April 16 to be cared for.

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge Executive Director Savannah Trantham has since reported that the cub was introduced to another orphaned cub that had previously arrived at the facility, and that both animals are now doing well.

“Both cubs are thriving and doing well in care,” Trantham said in a statement. “They are eating well and interacting with enrichment, doing all the things we hope to see with young cubs. Our team has no reason to believe that they won’t be released as wild bears in the fall.”

“This case has understandably brought up feelings of frustration, sadness and anger for many viewers, and we hope the act of witnessing these shocking visuals prompts people to reflect on the very real challenges that wildlife face every day,” she explained. “The silver lining is that this cub was rescued by NCWRC. It is now safe and being well cared for despite being separated from its mom.”

Trantham said that it’s not unusual or concerning to see baby animals away from their mothers during the spring and summer, and that oftentimes, they will leave their young in safe spaces (like trees) while they’re off foraging for food. Though many people will assume that a baby animal by itself has been orphaned or abandoned, she said in most cases, “they are right where they are supposed to be.”

“Ultimately, wild mothers know best!” Trantham added. “This is the time of year here in western North Carolina where bears are out of their winter dens and teaching their cubs how to be bears! It is a normal occurrence to see a female with cubs trailing behind, as with many of our wild mothers. We encourage everyone to take the incident of these young cubs to heart and treat all wild animals with the respect they deserve.”

With tourism season kicking off at national parks across the country, this is as good a reminder of any to give wild animals plenty of space. Park officials generally require that visitors keep a minimum distance of at least 25 yards from all wildlife including bison, elk and deer; and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

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