Bear Cub Rescued From Pond After Being Yanked Out Of Tree For Photos

At least one black bear cub was left “a bit traumatized” after being pulled out of a tree, along with another cub, by people seeking photos.

Video shot by a witness outside an apartment complex in Asheville, North Carolina, on Tuesday showed a group of people pulling two struggling cubs out of the low branches of a tree and attempting to pose with them for photos.

At one point, one of the cubs can be seeing struggling free and running away while a person chases it.

Staffers from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission were called to the scene after a cub bit one of the people, the wildlife agency said in a press release Thursday.

A cub was then located sitting alone, “lethargic and frightened” in a retention pond at the complex, NCWRC biologist and bear specialist Ashley Hobbs said in the press release. The cub was “wet and shivering” and was “favoring” one of its front paws, indicating a possible injury.

The cub was “obviously a bit traumatized,” after the ordeal, Hobbs told the Asheville Citizen Times.

The bear cub rescued from the retention pond was transported to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
The bear cub rescued from the retention pond was transported to a wildlife rehabilitation center. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

The cub was taken to the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge and is now doing well, CBS News reported. The bear will stay at the rehabilitation facility until it’s old enough to be released back into the wild.

The other cub wasn’t found, but Hobbs told the Citizen Times that this “isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” and may indicate that it found its way back to its mother. It’s common for bear mothers to stow their cubs in a “safe place like a tree” while they forage for food, she said.

The witness who shot the video told the news outlet that she did so after the group of people ignored her pleas to stop bothering the bears.

Those who were taking photos with the cubs will not face charges, according to a state wildlife official.

“While dangerous and unfortunate, it appears to be an isolated event,” an NCWRC spokesperson told The Associated Press on Friday. The spokesperson added that wildlife officers and biologists talked to the people who harassed the bears about why it’s important to leave cubs alone.

“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,” Colleen Olfenbuttel, an NCWRC game mammals and surveys supervisor, said in the agency’s press release.

The release noted that “while it may seem obvious,” people should never approach bears of any age or try to take photos with them.

“It often does not end well for people or the bear, as we saw in this incident,” Olfenbuttel said.