Wildlife: Man Tried To Sell Bear Cubs At Gas Station

7:32 AM, Jun 9, 2012   |    comments
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Nevada County, CA-- The Department of Fish and Game is investigating how a man in Nevada County came into possession of two bear cubs.

According to Department of Fish and Game, the man had the cubs at a gas station in North San Juan, and was offering them for sale, as someone might sell puppies or kittens.

While a crowd of people gathered and took pictures of the cubs, one person called the Department of Fish and Game Poacher hotline to alert authorities.

By the time game wardens arrived, the man had left the scene. However, he was well known in the community and later contacted at his home.

No arrests were made, but game wardens removed the cubs from his home and took them to their regional office in Rancho Cordova. Plans are to transfer the cubs to a wildlife rehabilitation center in South Lake Tahoe.

Officials hope to keep human contact to a minimum so the cubs don't get too comfortable around people. Their food will be reduced next year and after they have gone into hibernation, they will be taken into the wild and released in a den.

"These two cubs are in really good health," Department of Fish and Game State Bear Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon said. "We're pretty confident they'll have a good chance of survival."

Chris Puett said he shot the bear on his Nevada County property because he feared for his life and his animals. He said the bear started coming around his property about a week ago. The bear kept pestering his animals and trying to get dog food.

Puett tried to scare away the bear on three different occasions. However, during the fourth incident, Puett said the bear charged at him so he fired a shot.

"I'm sitting out there, shaking like a leaf," Puett said. "I just shot a bear. I didn't want to shoot the bear."

Puett said he heard the bear hit the ground, rustle through the leaves and then ran to the other side of the road.

Puett said the noise stopped for a moment, but then he started to hear other noises on his property, that's when he found the cubs in a tree.

Puett said he captured the cubs after 18 hours. He put them in a cage and brought them into town.

"One person saw them, heard them, 'What's that? It's a bear cub. Can I see it?', so I showed it to
him," Puett recalled.

As more people became aware of the cubs, they started to gather at the gas station in North San Juan. Some even asked to buy the cubs, but Puett told them they weren't for sale. He wanted to find a home for the cubs at a wildlife rescue.

Puett said he was not trying to sell the cubs and that he called authorities while trying to capture the cubs.

"I talked to Fish and Game," Puett said. "They said 'shoot the cubs or leave them there.' I know the age of animals -- their teeth were small. They need the Mama."

"They're going to die if they're out there," Puett said. "I don't want to make them die, I don't want to let them die."

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