BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. - An adult black bear missing much of her front left leg was recently spotted in Buncombe County, North Carolina.
The mother bear, spotted on a resident’s front yard surveillance camera, can be seen with her cubs, but she's missing much of her front left leg. It's not slowing her down, but at some point, something did.
A group of animal activists is alarmed at what they say is an increase in these types of injuries. Organizers of "Help Asheville Bears" claim to have seen at least seven cases of area bears missing legs.
"We have more bears," Justin McVey with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission told WLOS. "Our population has been increasing. Bears get hit by cars all the time, and unfortunately bears with three legs is not uncommon. They adapt very well, and they can live a successful life, even with just three legs."
Help Asheville Bears sees it differently, its Facebook page showing still photos of what are said to be other bears missing limbs.
The group even offers a reward for information leading to anyone who may be trapping.
"Traps that are used today would not pull a foot or a leg off," McVey said, adding that there has been no word of trappers in the area.
He said bears are resilient.
"They will generally kind of move away from people, get to a quiet place, rest and recuperate. Generally, those wounds will heal on their own, and then they're able to go out and live a normal life."
So if you see a bear missing a leg or foot, what should you do?
"The bear's just fine, it's able to move, it's able to eat, it looks healthy, just leave it," McVey said. "The best they can do is leave it alone, and make sure you're not feeding that bear, intentionally or unintentionally."
He recommends if you see a bear like this, leave it alone and definitely don't feed it.
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