Two hunters in Oregon are under investigation after finding a couple bear cubs in the wild and taking them home.
Oregon State Police spokesman Sgt. Bill Sugat said it didn't appear the hunters acted maliciously, but it's still unclear what happened to the cubs' mother. Because it happened over the weekend, he said the hunters had the cubs "for a day or two" before they connected with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. OSP is still investigating if any crime was committed.
ODFW did eventually recover the bear cubs, transporting them to the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood for rehabilitation. That started with a quick exam, making sure the cubs don't have any signs of disease or infection. The sibling cubs - one male and one female - weigh around 5 pounds each and were probably born in December or January in their mother's winter den.
"Her patience is getting a little short," PAWS Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. John Huckabee said while quickly looking at the female cub's eyes and ears. He checked her lymph nodes, paws, and looked at her tonsils.
There are no issues and the exam is done in less than four minutes. Then it's time for her brother to get the same treatment.
"They are thin, but that's pretty normal for a baby," Huckabee said. "I didn't find any evidence of congenital problems, no evidence of infection. Overall they look like the're in really good shape."
If all goes well, the bears will only have one more exam a year from now, when they're ready to be released back into the wild. In the meantime, they'll grow with very little human interaction.
"It's very important that they associate humans with bad things as opposed to being a source of food or a source of social interaction," Huckabee said. "They need to be fully independent and not cause a problem for people once they're released back into the wild."
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