Hunting and killing bears is legal, but saving one is a crime?
This is the “legal logic” that Corey Hancock is wrestling with after he stumbled upon a dying baby bear in the wild and chose to rescue it.
“[The bear] was totally unresponsive,” said Corey, “I tried tickling his feet, messing with his ears and he didn’t move at all. I just kept talking to him—every time I thought he was going to die, he took another breath.”
But soon after, authorities confronted Corey and warned he could be criminally charged for his act of kindness—all because you’re not allowed to remove certain animals from their natural habitat.
Corey discovered the bear while hiking in the Elkhorn mountain region, and although he narrowly escaped legal repercussions (he was let off with just a warning), he says he doesn’t regret anything and would do it all over again.
“I don’t think anyone who was a parent or a good-natured human being could walk away from another mammal taking his last breath,” said Corey.
After discovering the baby bear, Corey posted to Facebook asking friends if they knew of a good place to take the abandoned critter.
Eventually, the Turtle Ridge Wildlife Shelter agreed to accept him, quickly stabilizing his health, temperature, and hydration.
At the moment, “Elkhorn”—which is the name Corey gave to his cuddly discovery—has been transferred to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
However, the ODFW did have some words of caution in the event anyone else finds themselves in Corey’s shoes:
We advise people to never assume a young animal is orphaned unless they saw the mother die. It is quite common for young to temporarily be left alone in the wild.
“Elkhorn” reportedly showed significant improvements in health within 12 hours, so hopes are high he may one day be returned to his natural habitat.