Wildlife experts agree that when a human comes across a wild animal baby, the best bet is to just leave that baby alone. Most of the time, the baby has been left in a relatively safe place by its Momma, who may be out looking for food. We are supposed to just leave the little one and go on our happy human way.
But a hiker in Oregon found himself faced with a dilemma last week when he stumbled upon a baby black bear lying alone along the trail. The hiker, Corey Hancock, knew the drill about leaving animals alone.
He was worried, though. The little cub appeared to be barely breathing. He said:
“It was cold, raining, [the cub was] just sitting there in the rain not moving, not breathing. I didn’t have a choice, I wouldn’t have left it out there. He seemed to be abandoned and dying. He was hardly moving at first when I walked up on him. I thought was dead.”
The young man waited for a while, hoping that the cub’s Momma bear would come back, but she didn’t. He realized that the cub was just managing to cling to life, so he made the decision to pick it up and try to revive it.
Hancock says that he gave the little guy CPR to try to get him going, holding the cub against his own body for warmth. He hiked about two miles to his car, cradling the cub in his arms. As he walked through the cold rain, he gave the little bear a few rescue breaths and pushed on its chest.
The cub gave one weak breath. Hancock couldn’t stop trying.
He got the bear cub to his truck, and drove to a spot with cell reception. He posted an image on Facebook, with the question of where to take the baby.
A friend recommended a local wildlife rescue facility, the Turtle Animal Center. Hancock brought the little guy to the center, deciding on the way to name it “Elkhorn” after the location where he’d found it.
Hancock and the veterinarian worked together to warm and rehydrate the baby. The doctor validated Hancock’s actions, saying that the three month old black bear had probably been without food or warmth for several days. She agreed that he had been minutes from death when Hancock found him.
After the cub was stabilized, Hancock headed home to his own wife and young son.
To his surprise, the story of Elkhorn had gone viral and not every response was positive. In fact, many of the people who responded were critical of the hiker for interfering with nature. He was turned over to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who considered filing charges against him.
More people, though, supported his actions and called him a hero. Hancock was eventually told that no charges would be pressed, but he was uneasy with those who came out against his actions.
For several days, he posted updates on Facebook about the little bear and his recovery. His love for the cub was obvious in his posts. He even referred to himself as a father of a little boy, saying that the dying bear had looked so much like a human infant, lying there in the rain, that he couldn’t walk away.
What a great story! Given the usual news that we see and hear every day, its very encouraging to read about a kind and loving human being, isn’t it?
Featured image via Facebook Screengrab.