Outrage after video shows people pulling bear cubs from trees in Asheville

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -People are expressing outrage and NC Wildlife officials are reminding people never to do what the individuals in the video are seen doing to bear cubs.

On Tuesday, NC Wildlife Resources Commission staff were contacted by the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office regarding a group of people at an apartment complex in Asheville who are seen pulling two bear cubs from a tree and taking photos of themselves with the cubs.

NCWRC staff arrived and were told both cubs had escaped after a cub bit one of the people.

One of the cubs was found later in a retention pond and taken to a licensed cub rehabilitation facility. The other has not been located.

NCWRC’s BearWise© Coordinator Ashley Hobbs captured one cub and noted 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,” said Hobbs. The cub is now being cared for by a licensed and experienced cub rehabilitator with the goal of releasing it back into the wild later this year.

“The cub’s condition is likely a result of the unnecessary and irresponsible actions of the people involved,” said Game Mammals and Surveys Supervisor Colleen Olfenbuttel. “Ashley and our enforcement staff searched the area for the second cub but did not locate 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.

Other bear advocates who saw the video expressed outrage and said what the people did is exactly what you don’t want to do.

Wildlife officials are reminding the public to never approach or handle bear cubs.

This incident remains an active investigation to determine if charges will be filed.