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Boomer helps rescue abandoned bear cub

Dr. Beverly Hargus holds a bear cub that was found Sunday at Lake Summit. [PHOTO COURTESY OF MARVIN OWINGS JR.] Dr. Beverly Hargus holds a bear cub that was found Sunday at Lake Summit. [PHOTO COURTESY OF MARVIN OWINGS JR.]

Thanks to Boomer the rescue lab, an abandoned bear cub was itself rescued, is under the care of wildlife biologists and should be released in the wild in about a year.

Marvin Owings, the retired Henderson County farm agent, was walking Boomer along South Lake Summit Road Sunday when the black lab alerted.
“He started barking, it scared him,” Owings said. “He was just right off the road. I was a little cautious because I didn’t know where the mother bear might be, so we didn’t stay too long. We left it and we walked on, hoping the mother bear would have taken the bear and walked off with it.”
On the way back, Owings and Boomer came upon the cub again. Owings was surprised the cub had managed to move about 50 yards. Boomer found it again.
“That’s when I contacted Beverly (Hargus) because I knew it probably wouldn’t last if somebody didn’t try to help it.”
When Dr. Hargus, a veterinarian at Animals’R’Us, arrived, she put on a pair of gloves and picked up the cub, which squealed.
“They took it to their house and in the meantime they contacted a wildlife resource officer. He came to the house I think maybe even that night to get it,” he said.
Dr. Hargus fed the cub milk and honey “just to try to help it some help because it was so weak.” She thought the cub was about two weeks old.
“It’s the first time I’ve come across a baby bear,” Owings said. “I’ve read stories about the mother bear being close by. You wouldn’t want to get between her and the cub.”
Jodie Owen, a communications officer with the state Wildlife Resources Commission, heard from Mike Carraway, the wildlife biologist who took the cub from Hargus.
“The cub is doing well and we are transferring it to our bear rehabilitation facility and it will stay there until it’s big enough to go to our winter rehab facility and will remain there until next summer,” when it will be released in the wild, Owen said.
“As far as why, there are many possibilities,” she said. “It could be a dog that found a den and scared the mother and scared the cubs or a young inexperienced mother that was frightened away from the den or something could have happened to the mother bear.”
Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Wildlife Commission’s black bear biologist, said in an email that a cub could become orphaned “due to a variety of reasons, such as human disturbance (such as a person or dog disturbing a bear den) or the mother died (such as hit by a car).”
Olfenbuttel cautioned people against assuming that a bear cub is orphaned and advised against picking one up.
“Please contact the NC Wildlife Resources Commission so we can determine if the cub is actually orphaned,” she said. “As with other wildlife, it is in the best interest of the wildlife for the public to leave it alone. Often, the cub is not orphaned and the mother is near-by. And, if the cub is orphaned, we often see that the public does more harm to the cub, as they don’t know how to care for the cub until our agency is able to get it from them. If you suspect there is an orphaned cub, please contact our agency so we can investigate, and if the cub is orphaned, bring the cub to our licensed rehabilitators located in North Carolina.”