An Oregon photographer is being praised as a hero after saving a life.
Corey Hancock was out for a hike in the rain near Elkhorn Road on the Santiam River Trail to take photos of a waterfall when he found a young bear cub sprawled in the grass. With blue lips and open, unfocused eyes, the bear appeared to be dead already. Touched at how much the cub looked like an infant, he decided he couldn’t let it die alone in the heavy rain.
After making sure its mother wasn’t returning, Corey quickly scooped up the small bear and ran the mile and a half to his car. The cub showed no other signs of life, except for the occasional faint gasp, but they were few and far between.
On a recommendation, Corey headed to the Turtle Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. On the way the cub stopped breathing, and Corey pulled over to give him a few short rescue breaths until he resumed breathing on his own. At Turtle Ridge the bear was treated for dehydration and Corey named him “Elkhorn.”
Corey’s story attracted both positive and negative attention when posted to Facebook, and those concerned that Corey had taken the bear from his mother contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Turtle Ridge called Corey right away to let him know that authorities were on their way to collect Elkhorn, and Corey was able to rush over and see the bear before he was taken. The staff at the rehabilitation center worked all night to warm the cub and hydrate him, and had improved significantly within the 12 hours he was there.
Without a family, it’s likely that Elkhorn will spend his life in a zoo or sanctuary and will not be returned to the wild. Corey risked not only his personal well-being, but also a $6,000 fine or a year in prison for removing the cub. Luckily, he has been spared the repercussions of rescuing Elkhorn – who likely would not have seen another day without Corey’s intervention.