People caught on video trying to pull bear cubs from tree to take selfies

Click to play video: 'Group of people filmed pulling bear cub from tree'
Group of people filmed pulling bear cub from tree
Several people were filmed pulling a black bear cub out of a tree and trying to grab another in Asheville, N.C., on Tuesday. – Apr 19, 2024

File this under: “A good way to get yourself killed.”

An investigation is underway after a group of people (with an apparent death wish) were filmed pulling black bear cubs out of a tree in North Carolina in an effort to take a round of selfies with the baby animals.

The unsettling incident, which went down in Ashville, N.C., Tuesday afternoon, was captured by onlooker Rachel Staudt, who turned her camera to a group of six people outside an apartment complex.

The group is seen approaching a wooded area behind a fence near the building. At first, the bear cubs are obscured by the tree’s leaves, but as the group gets closer some people can be seen tugging two bear cubs from their perches, yanking them from branches.

One woman is seen holding onto a cub like a small child, while another person snaps photos.

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A woman holds one of the bear cubs.
A woman holds one of the bear cubs. Rachel Staudt via Storyful

“She’s holding it up. She’s holding a bear,” an eyewitness can be heard saying. “The other guy’s grabbing the other one.”

The woman then drops the cub and chases it as it tries to run away.

The woman chases the scared bear after dropping it.
The woman chases the scared bear after dropping it. Rachel Staudt via Storyful

Authorities were notified after the incident was reported to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, local outlet WLOS reported. A special projects biologist for the commission found only one cub at the scene, which she said is currently at a rehab facility and will be released back into the wild, the outlet reported.

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“We do think that the bear probably had a pretty traumatic experience,” biologist Ashley Hobbs told the outlet.

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“We did follow up with the people who pulled the bear out of the tree,” she continued. “We did confront them on site that day and let them know how irresponsible and potentially deadly it could be for that cub to be separated from its mom, especially ripped out of a tree like that.”

It is never acceptable to interact with wildlife in such a way, Hobbs said, expressing her frustration over a stunt pulled for social media clout.

“It’s not uncommon to get calls this time of year about cubs being alone, but certainly, we don’t usually have people go out and start pulling them out of trees to take selfies with them,” she told the Citizen Times.

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In a press release, the wildlife commission stated a bear cub bit one of the people during the interaction.

“The cub appeared to be lethargic and frightened. It looked to be favoring one of its front paws and was wet and shivering,” Hobbs said in the release.

Only one bear was located. Hobbs said it’s her hope that the other cub was reunited safely with its mom. Mama bears will often leave their cubs in a safe place while they forage for food, but if a cub is separated from its mother for too long, it could die.

Also, Hobbs said, mother bears are extremely protective of their babies and the group put themselves in a “dangerous situation.”

“I tried telling them to stop, but they wouldn’t listen so I thought recording it might help get justice for the sweet bear cub,” Staudt told the Citizen Times.

“I’m not sure how long it went on for, but far too long.”

Officials said the group of selfie-takers were given a “stern” talking to about how dangerous it is to interact with bear cubs.


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