Wildlife experts give update on bear cub taken out of tree for photo

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WHNS/Gray News) – Wildlife experts in North Carolina said a bear cub that was grabbed out of a tree for a photo is now at a rehabilitation facility.

A video of a group of people taking the cub out of a tree in Asheville went viral last week.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resource Center (NCWRC) said that the group of people will not face charges because the cub was released immediately.

The bear cub was rescued and will spend the next 8 to 9 months at a rehabilitation facility in western North Carolina until it is ready to be released.

NCWRC BearWise Coordinator Ashley Hobbs was dispatched to the scene to locate the cub seen in the video.

“When I arrived, that bear cub had been found on the edge of a retention pond, a little bit inside the water on the edge of the retention pond,” Hobbs said. “So, it seemed to be shivering. It was probably a bit cold, and it did seem to be favoring one of its paws at the time, so luckily, I was able to scoop it up pretty quickly.”

While the group won’t be facing charges, Hobbs was able to speak with them at the time, reinforcing how dangerous their actions were.

“I let them know that we were taking the cub into a rehab facility and kind of spoke through the rehab process … And we were able to kind of talk about what their intentions were, and really hammered home that this was inappropriate behavior. And they should never approach any sort of wildlife like this in the future,” she said.

Hobbs took the animal to the rehab center that specializes in bear cubs. The cub received immediate care and is “doing just fine,” she said.

“…Eating well, drinking well, and it even has joined up with another bear cub that was orphaned earlier in the year. So, it has it has a buddy as well,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs said the goal at the rehab facility is for the bear to have as little human interaction as possible so that it doesn’t become associated with humans.

The cub will be released in the mountains in North Carolina likely this fall, if all goes well.

“And it’ll be an independent bear. We find that our rehabilitated bears do very well upon release,” Hobbs said. “They usually go find a den later in the fall, and they den through the winter, just as any other wild bear would.”

A second bear cub was seen in the original video of the group of people taking photos with the bears. Hobbs said she did not locate the second bear cub and it hasn’t been spotted since.

“But it’s not necessarily a bad thing if we don’t see this cub again. The female bear, the mother bear in this case, is a well-known bear around that [apartment] complex. She frequented that area quite a bit, so there’s a good chance that the cub and the female bear have already linked back up,” Hobbs said.