A 2-year-old black Labrador named Boomer is being credited with rescuing a malnourished black bear cub found abandoned Sunday near the western North Carolina town of Saluda.
The cub is believed to be about three months old and weighs only 4 to 5 pounds, state officials said.
Marvin Owings, former Henderson County Extension director, told Blue Ridge Now he was out walking when his dog Boomer ran ahead and started barking at something.
Owings discovered it was a small bear “scared half to death.” He believes the dog rescued the bear from certain death, possibly due to starvation. Boomer is himself a rescue animal, it was reported.
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“I was a little cautious because I didn’t know where the mother bear might be,” Owings told the Hendersonville Lightning. “We left it and we walked on, hoping the mother bear would have taken the bear and walked off with it.”
When Owings and Boomer came back a half hour later, Boomer found the cub 200 feet away from the original sighting, Blue Ridge Now reported. It was still alone, he told media outlets.
Owings contacted an area veterinarian, who collected the bear, fed it milk and honey, and turned it over to a state wildlife resource officer, media outlets report.
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission game warden Toby Jenkins took the cub, which seemed to have gone days without eating, reported The Associated Press.
It is now headed to a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Caswell County, the only one in the state that rehabilitates bears, reports Blue Ridge Now.
State officials say abandoned or orphaned cubs are an annual occurrence, but not common. Last year, three were found in the mountains and four were found in coastal counties, said Mike Carraway, the state's mountain region biologist.
"This is the first one we have received this year," he said. "All cubs are born in dens in January, so this cub is roughly 10 weeks old."
The cub will stay in state custody until next summer, when it will be released into the wild. The final nine months of its year in captivity will be spent in the company of other abandoned bear cubs, with no human contact.
Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs