Bear cub yanked from tree by group seeking selfies is doing 'very well'

(Photo credit: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission)

A bear cub being cared for by Appalachian Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina after it was yanked from a tree for selfies is said to be doing very well.

The disturbing scene unfolded last month in Asheville when a group of people was caught on video messing with very young black bear cubs in an attempt to get photos.

Rachel Staudt, who recorded the video of the incident outside an apartment complex, said the group started taking pictures of the cubs after pulling one out of the tree. "It was a horrible thing to do to an innocent baby animal," Staudt told Storyful.

The group can be seen repeatedly attempting to yank the cubs from the tree, then holding one of the bears and taking a selfie before dropping the cubs, who ran away.

NCWRC's BearWise® Coordinator Ashley Hobbs, responded to the scene and was able to capture one cub, noting that it was in poor condition. "The cub appeared to be lethargic and frightened. It looked to be favoring one of its front paws and was wet and shivering," she said in an NCWRC statement.

The commission searched the area for the second cub but couldn't find it. "Our hope is it was able to reunite with the mother because it would not survive on its own at this young age," said Mountain Operations Supervisor James Tomberlin.

In a new statement, Appalachian Wildlife Refuge said the rescued cub, believed to be three or four months old, is doing well after she was introduced to another orphaned cub. Both cubs are thriving, Executive Director Savannah Trantham said. "They are eating well and interacting with enrichment, doing all the things we hope to see with young cubs."

Officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission investigated this incident and said no charges will be filed and the case has since been closed.

"While dangerous and unfortunate, it appears to be an isolated event," said commission spokesperson Failey Mahlum, according to Citizen Times. "It is unlawful in NC to capture and keep black bears. However, the bear cubs were immediately released, and officers have determined there will be no charges filed."

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge hopes to release the cubs as wild bears in the autumn.

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