Bear cub recovering after being dropped by bystander who picked it up, took photos

North Carolina officials are investigating the incident that was caught on film.

April 18, 2024, 4:18 PM

A group of people may have gotten the chance for a furry social media post when a pair of bear cubs made their way to a North Carolina apartment complex, but wildlife experts are sounding the alarm over the dangers such a move poses to both the people and the cubs.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission responded to a report Tuesday of a group of people at an apartment complex in East Asheville pulling the black bear cubs out of a tree.

PHOTO: A group of people was filmed taking pictures with wild bears in Buncombe County, N.C, according to officials.
A group of people was filmed taking pictures with wild bears in Buncombe County, N.C, according to officials.
Rachel Staudt

During the incident, which was filmed by Rachel Staudt who lives in the complex, one of the individuals is seen holding one of the cubs in their arms and posing with it as another person took photos.

A few seconds after the photos were taken, the person dropped the cub which yelped and started to run away. The cub tried to get through a fence that separated it from the tree where it and the other cub were perched.

"They were chasing it around after that trying to pick it back up, but eventually the apartment maintenance got involved and told them to stop," Staudt, 21, told ABC News.

Staudt said she called the police and provided them with the video.

The NCWRC said it received the video and Ashley Hobbs, a bear expert for the agency, arrived on the scene.

PHOTO: A group of people was filmed taking pictures with wild bears in Buncombe County, N.C, according to officials.
A group of people was filmed taking pictures with wild bears in Buncombe County, N.C, according to officials.
Rachel Staudt

Hobbs said in a statement that she found one of the cubs in a retention pond in the middle of the apartment complex.

"It jumped into this pond to get away from these people because it was so scared. It was very upsetting to watch," Staudt said.

The second cub was not immediately located, according to the NCWRC.

"The cub in the pond was lethargic, had a low body temperature and was favoring one of its front paws," Hobbs said in a statement. "I confronted the offending people while at the apartment complex and explained the danger of approaching and handling wildlife."

NCWRC transported the cub to a local rehab facility and it "seems to be recovering well," according to Hobbs.

PHOTO: A bear cub found in a North Carolina apartment complex is in cage to be transported to rehab facility.
A bear cub found in a North Carolina apartment complex is in cage to be transported to rehab facility.
NCWRC Staff

"The bear cub will be cared for in the rehab facility until it is old enough to be released into the wild (sub-adult)," the agency said in a statement.

The incident is under investigation.

NCWRC warned that no one should handle bears if spotted in the wild due to the serious risk of danger to both themselves and the animal.

"There’s always a chance that the mother is nearby and may attempt to defend her cubs. It also endangers the bear cubs. Handling a bear cub poses a risk of injuring that cub and increases the chance it will become separated from its mother," the agency said in a statement.

Staudt said she has seen bears around the complex all of the time and that there are warning signs posted telling tenants and visitors to be aware of them.

"Hopefully they understood what they did wrong," Staudt said of the people in the video.

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