My Turn: Why I rescued and fed a poor little bear cub
Special to the Sun
LAKE TAHOE and#8212; Normally I donand#8217;t respond to insults and false accusations. It serves no purpose and I have much better things to do with my limited time. The Sierra Sun recently published a commentary so out of touch with reality that I questioned the reasoning for printing it. The answer was, since I am a so called and#8220;public figure,and#8221; our newspapers can publish critical comments about me. It is simply one of those unwritten rules of journalism and I guess I have to live with it. The good part is most people saw through Mr. Malletand#8217;s cruel attempt to label me a hypocrite and rallied in my support. Thank you, to all of you who realize the difference between illegally throwing food out in your backyard for normal, healthy neighborhood bears and that of a wildlife rehabilitator (which I have been for 25 years) rescuing a starving, dehydrated, frostbitten and extremely underweight bear cub and helping to stabilize him during a holiday (Thanksgiving weekend).
This was a bear from Nevada, so the BEAR League was given permission from the Nevada Department of Wildlife to pick up the cub when we received numerous calls that he was approaching people in an obvious weakened state, shivering uncontrollably with ice and snow packed into his fur. Because I have years of experience with wildlife and have on hand all the various diets for each native species, NDOW knew he would be in good hands until they had the personnel available to bring him to a Nevada wildlife facility for continuing care.
He was on the verge of death and it was only a matter of time until a citizen, with good intentions but no experience, would have taken the little 12 pound cub home with them. The bear, weak and very ill, could still have inflicted serious injuries to someone without knowledge of how to handle him. And anyone besides a wildlife specialist would not have had the proper diet on hand and could have killed him by feeding him an inappropriate meal. It is also illegal for anyone without a permit to keep or attempt to care for a bear.
In regard to the comments about letting nature take its course, there is no one who believes more strongly in Mother Nature knowing whatand#8217;s best for wildlife than I do. And if the little cub had perished before crossing paths with and then asking for help from humans (who are supposedly set apart from and#8216;beastsand#8217; in our ability to show compassion) that would have been nature taking its course. But once we as humans are aware of a situation like this and we have the ability to help but we instead walk away, it is no longer in that category and#8230; it then becomes an act of animal cruelty and unconscionable murder by neglect.
Forgive me, Mr. Mallet, for being completely unable to turn away from a suffering living being who I have the training, the means and the legal backing to help save. No one has ever complained when I rescue, stabilize and raise orphaned squirrels, porcupines, fawns, birds, ermine, beaver, etc. In fact, everyone who calls me about an injured or orphaned animal seems genuinely appreciative that the animal will have a good chance to survive and live his or her life. Why are bear cubs any different? The facility in Reno (Animal Ark) has an excellent success rate with the cubs theyand#8217;ve cared for (and yes, they feed them). They are taught to fear and avoid humans and end up being the least likely to become and#8220;problem bears.and#8221;
This little cub has a long way to go before he will be a candidate for release, however. His ears were so badly frostbit that they have both fallen off and his state of emaciation was extreme and may have caused permanent organ damage. Time will tell and his hope is now in the capable hands of caring experts in Nevada (where he was found). These good people would also be horrified if you told them not to feed this baby. They would pay no attention to your incomprehensible, mean-spirited comments and chalk it up to ignorance. I should have done the same, but Iand#8217;d rather have you understand why I rescued and fed this poor little creature. Do you?
and#8212; Ann Bryant is executive director of the BEAR League, based in Homewood.
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