It’s easy to say that we should always try to rescue whatever animals that appear to be in need. However, it’s not always necessarily that simple, especially when you’re dealing with potentially dangerous creatures.
Take bear cubs, for example. When they’re suffering, they’re just as deserving of rescue as any other animal—but even approaching them is a huge risk when you consider how their protective mothers could be nearby.
Corey Hancock was well aware of that danger when he stumbled upon what appeared to be a lifeless bear cub during his walk through the wilderness in Salem, Oregon. That’s why his next move was incredible…
Salem, Oregon resident Corey Hancock was snapping some photos along the Santiam River one evening when it began to downpour. Thinking he’d pack it up for the day, he turned on his heel—only to see something that shocked him.
What he found was a bear cub, who was drenched in rainwater, weak, and struggling to breathe. “It was laying on its back, barely moving.” Corey said in an interview. “It twisted a couple times. Its paws weren’t moving. It wasn’t breathing. It was dying.”
Corey needed to choose his next actions quickly: should he let the animal suffer, and possibly die, in the rain? Or should he bring the cub with him, which was a huge risk considering that the mother bear could return in a rage? Ultimately, he chose the latter.
“I thought about my 2-year-old son, and I saw a baby that deserved to live,” Corey said.
After wrapping the cub in his shirt, Corey ran all the way to his car, which was a mile-and-a-half away. He then posted a Facebook status about the bear, and several people advised him about how to help the animal. He was later contacted by Turtle Ridge Wildlife Rehab.
Turtle Ridge was closed at the time, but they made a special exception to reopen in order to take in the cub. On the way there, it appeared that the bear had stopped breathing, so Corey performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. “It would take like a breath like every minute-and-a-half,” said the man. “I pulled over a couple times and debated on whether he was dead or alive.”
He arrived at Turtle Ridge Wildlife Rehab and one of the employees immediately wrapped the animal in a heated blanket, as well as gave him an injection of much-needed electrolytes. “He start warming up and breathing better,” said Corey.
At 6 a.m. the following morning, Corey called the rescue center. The staffers reassured him that, after staying up all night, the bear—whom they nicknamed Elkhorn—had proper hydration and was even moving, attempting to stand, and becoming more vocal.
Turtle Ridge’s Charles Harmansky-Johnson called Corey “a hero.” The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife now has Elkhorn in their custody.
While experts say that you should always be extremely cautious when dealing with bear cubs, there’s no denying that Corey saved this young animal’s life.
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