Photographer Corey Hancock was hiking on a trail in Oregon when he spotted something a baby bear on the brink of death. Hancock wrote that the bear was “laying there on his back, seeming by all appearances to be dead. His lips were blue. His eyes were open but unmoving and hazy. The rain was pouring down, drenching his belly. I might have seen a shallow breath.”
“I thought about my own baby boy back home. The bear looked so much like an infant. Was I just going to stand there and watch it die in the rain? No… I needed to do something.”
He took the bear with him and started running to his car. “The whole time, I was sure a raging mother bear would come for me.”
Once they got to the car, the baby bear stopped breathing. Hancock performed mouth-to-mouth and the animal started breathing again. Hancock took him to the vet where he was being treated for severe dehydration and starvation.
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Hancock could have been fined $6,000 for helping the bear, or worse – sent off to jail for a year. Luckily, there will be no punishment for this kind-hearted man.
The veterinarian refused to treat a wild animal, so Hancock turned to the Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center for help. Hancock dubbed the bear “Elkhorn,” and a vet tech placed him on a heating pad, massaged his deep tissues, and gave him several rounds of fluids. By 6:00 AM the next morning, Elkhorn was moving around and, according to Hancock, was “growling and biting his cage.”
Charles Harmansky-Johnson of Turtle Ridge called Hancock a “hero.” However, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) didn’t feel the same way. It is illegal in Oregon to remove a young animal from the wild. For his efforts, Hancock faced some criticism, a potential $6,000 fine, and possible jail time.
The ODFW gave Hancock a warning instead of a criminal citation. As for little Elkhorn, he is now at the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynwood, Washington where he will be able to grow up in a natural environment without human interference. And best of all, Elkhorn won’t be alone! A rescued female cub is keeping him company at PAWS, and both cubs will have the opportunity to mature together.
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