Bear Cub Recovering at Wildlife Refuge After Being Yanked From Trees for a Selfie

Two cubs were videoed in the incident but only one has been located.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

May 2 2024, Updated 2:39 p.m. ET

Bear cubs snatched from trees for selfies, bear cub held by gloved hands at Appalachian Wildlife Refuge
Source: wfla/X, Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

Two bear cubs were separated from their mother in North Carolina, after a group of people appeared to snatch them from a tree located just outside of an apartment complex in Ashville. Their dangerous behaviors were captured on video by another resident of the complex, who filmed as the cubs were manhandled, photographed, and then chased when they tried to escape.

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The video quickly went viral, and the apartment complex residents were identified. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the bears, since only one of the two cubs was recovered after the incident took place. Experts have explained why that may not be such a bad thing for the baby bear, though. Continue reading to learn more, including what could happen to the people caught in the act.

Bear cubs snatched from trees for selfies
Source: wfla/X
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A bear cub is recovering after being separated from her mom.

The video paints an unsettling scene of what happened during the incident, when one woman can be heard screaming with excitement after successfully separating the bear from the tree. Bystanders watched without intervening as a few photos were snapped before one of the bears can be seen dropping to the ground. At least one person followed the bear in a chase, but it doesn't look like they had any success in recapturing the poor creature before the video cut off.

Authorities got involved after the woman who filmed the incident, Rachel Staudt, alerted the maintenance crew at the apartment, USA Today reported.

One of the apartment's staff was able to quickly ID the people from the video, and they were advised to refrain from feeding the bears or bringing them into the building. Staudt later told USA Today that while this wasn't the first time she'd seen the little bears around the complex, it was the first time she'd watched people interacting with them.

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One bear is now safely recovering at a wildlife center.

One of the experts called to the scene posted a statement about the incident, sharing how they'd managed to track one of the bears to a retention pond, where she appeared to be visually traumatized. Sadly, it also sounds like the cub was injured at some point in the day, since Ashely Hobbs, one of the women quoted in the statement from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, indicated that one of the bear's front paws seemed to be hurt.

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The statement also revealed that the second bear was never located. The news isn't all sad though, as Hobbs says that it's not uncommon for mama bears to try and keep their cubs safe by stashing them in a tree, which means she may have been able to recover one of her babies when she returned to the spot where the cubs were initially taken from. As for the rescued bear cub, she is now being cared for at Appalachian Wildlife Refuge.

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"We are incredibly grateful for a community of supporters willing to share her update and bring attention to this story," Savannah Trantham, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Appalachian Wildlife Refuge, tells Green Lovers in an email.

Two shots of bear cub held by gloved hands at Appalachian Wildlife Refuge
Source: Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

The rescued bear cub, photographed during her initial intake exam at Appalachian Wildlife Refuge.

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The internet has been swift and vocal in expressing their outrage about the bears.

There hasn't been any shortage of commentary on the incident, with people online expressing everything from sadness over the way the bears were treated, to anger that more wasn't done to the people who interfered with the wildlife, specifically sharing their disappointment that the mama bear didn't show up during the photoshoot to exact some sweet revenge.

While the people in the video won't be facing any legal consequences for their actions — the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission revealed that it will not be filing charges, according to an update from USA Today — this is a good reminder that you should always leave bear cubs alone. As for the recovered cub, it sounds like she is doing well and is expected to be released back into the wild in the fall.

This article has been updated to include photos and a statement from Appalachian Wildlife Refuge.

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