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Controversy after hiker saves bear cub from death

April 4, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

When a hiker on a remote track in the US last week found a baby bear cub, sick and near death, he risked his life and possible prosecution to save the young animal. The cub, pictured below, is now doing fine, but the rescue has stirred controversy and raised important questions.

The Washington Post described how Corey Hancock faced a difficult decision when he came across the cub lying dehydrated and malnourished, seemingly abandoned by its mother. If he moved the cub he risked being attacked by mother bear – a likely fatal encounter – and he also could be prosecuted for interfering with wildlife.

Deciding he couldn’t let the cub die, Hancock picked it up in his shirt and ran a couple of kilometres by Oregon’s Santiam River to his car. At one point, when the cub stopped breathing, he gave it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save its life. He then drove the animal to an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) centre where he know it could receive veterinary help.

The baby bear recovering. Photo by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Colin Gillin, the ODFW state wildlife veterinarian who has been taking care of the cub with his veterinary staff since it was turned over to ODFW last week, said the male baby bear has now been sent to PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynwood, Washington, a wildlife rehabilitation facility, to continue its growth.

The bear cub was treated for mild pneumonia by ODFW veterinarian Julia Burco and several other staff, who worked with the Oregon State School of Veterinary Medicine.

ODFW and Oregon State Police have issued a reminder that taking young animals out of the wild isn’t just against the law, it’s also bad for the animal.

A statement by ODFW said: “The hiker who picked up the male bear cub on Sunday, March 26th, was given a warning by Troopers. Although the OSP did not issue a citation for this specific occurrence, individuals have been cited in the past for similar activities. Oregon State Police will look at each case individually and decide whether a citation or warning will be issued.”

ODFW said “rescued” animals could miss the chance to learn important survival skills from their mother like where to feed, what to eat, how to behave and avoid danger and predators.

In the case of the bear cub, however, the baby animal was at death’s door with perhaps just minutes to live.

What would you have done?

Written by Peter Needham

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