Group of people caught on video pulling bear cubs from tree to take pictures with them

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Wildlife officials said a group of people were caught on video trying to pull two bear cubs from a tree by an apartment complex in Asheville, North Carolina.

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The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said on Tuesday that the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department contacted the commission after they were told about a group of people trying to pull two bear cubs from a tree to take selfies with them. When the commission’s staff arrived at the apartment complex, they learned that both of the cubs escaped and one of them bit a person.

One of the cubs was found in a retention pool in the area and they were taken to a licensed cub rehabilitation facility, according to the commission. The other bear cub has not yet been found.

“The cub appeared to be lethargic and frightened. It looked to be favoring one of its front paws and was wet and shivering,” NCWRC’s BearWise Coordinator Ashley Hobbs said in a statement. 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.”

Luckily, the bear was OK and will eventually be released back into the wild, WLOS reported.

“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.

It is reportedly illegal to capture black bears in the state of North Carolina. It is also illegal to keep them. Since they were immediately released, the commission has decided to not file any charges, commission spokesperson Anna Gurney said in an email to The Associated Press.

“Officers with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission have investigated this incident, and, while dangerous and unfortunate, it appears to be an isolated event,” Gurney said. according to the AP. Gurney said that officers as well as biologists also spoke with the group to make sure they knew how important it was to leave the animals alone.