People Caught On Camera Dragging Bear Cubs Out Of Tree To Take Selfies With Them

There are few things more appealing than young fluffy animals. From kittens to puppies they are guaranteed to make people say “aww”. However, when it comes to the wild version of young animals they are always best admired from a distance. In an incident in North Carolina, a group of people were witnessed and filmed pulling two black bear cubs out of the low branches of a nearby tree to take selfies with the animals, which is a definite no-no. 

On April 18, the North Carolina Wildlife Agency responded to a call to assist the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, after a witness filmed the group of six people dragging the bear cubs out of a tree and taking selfies with them. On arrival, they were told that both cubs had managed to escape from the group, with one cub having reportedly bitten someone. One of the cubs was found and later taken to a rehabilitation center while the other has not been found yet. 

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

“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,” added Mountain Operations Supervisor James Tomberlin.  


American black bears (Ursus americanus) are found across pretty much all of North America. Adults can reach over 2 meters (7 feet) when standing and weigh up to 140 kilograms (300 pounds). It is not unusual for a mother bear to leave her cubs to go foraging before returning. However wild animals should never be approached and young animals should never be used as props for social media likes. 

The wildlife agency stresses you should never approach any wild animal. It could be harmful for both you and the animal. If you come across a cub that you believe has been abandoned in North Carolina then call the NC Wildlife Helpline (866-318-2401). 

“This time of year, mother bears are emerging from their den with their cubs that are experiencing the outside world for the first time and are very dependent on their mother to feed and protect them,” said Game Mammals and Surveys Supervisor Colleen Olfenbuttel. “People who try to capture or handle a cub are not only risking the cub’s safety, but their own if the mother bear is nearby, as she may try to defend her cubs.”

Female bears often leave their cubs somewhere safe, like in a tree, while they go to find food, coming back for them later. Touching or feeding a cub can cause it to be habituated to people and may cause the mother bear to abandon it. 

The cub that was captured will stay at the rehabilitation center until it’s old enough to be released into the wild. “The cub’s condition is likely a result of the unnecessary and irresponsible actions of the people involved,” Olfenbuttel said. 

The NCWRC has said this remains an active investigation and is sharing the video, although distressing to watch, to highlight this is exactly what not to do when coming across animals in the wild. A selfie is not worth the irreparable harm you can cause.  

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