While out on a hike through an Oregon trail, photographer Corey Hancock came across an unconscious black baby bear cub clinging to life. Seeing the unresponsive cub lay in the grass motionless, as the rain began to pour down on its belly, Corey knew he just had to do something.
Seeing the vulnerable cub lying there reminded him of his own son.
“I thought about my own baby boy back home. The bear looked so much like an infant,” he wrote. “Was I just going to stand there and watch it die in the rain? No… I needed to do something.”
He scooped up the baby bear and ran to his car, fearful that the mother bear would hunt him down. The cub suddenly stopped breathing once they got to his car, so he performed CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
After posting about the bear on Facebook, someone from the Turtle Ridge Wildlife Rehab said he could drop the bear off there to be rehabilitated. They gave the cub fluids and warmed its body temperature up and he seemed to be responding well. Corey decided to name him “Elkhorn” after the area he was found in.
Although Corey is being considered a hero by many, park officials say it’s not advisable to remove a bear from its natural habit because there’s a chance the mother could be coming back. And once taken out of its environment, the chances of a wild bear returning are slim. It will most likely be forced to live out the remainder of its life in a zoo or rehab center.
Corey also risked going to jail for removing a wild animal and a $6,000 fine. Thankfully Oregon State Police said they weren’t going to press charges since Corey had good intentions when he removed Elkhorn.