California Man Sentenced For Stealing Two Bear Cubs from Den

by Michael Freeman
(Photo credit should read RAYMOND ROIG/AFP via Getty Images)

As the weather warms up, bears are finally emerging from hibernation, cubs and all. Unfortunately, not all news regarding bears lately has been good. Recently, a California man received sentencing for stealing two bear cubs from their den.

According to USA Today, Cody Dylon Setzer found a den site in a fallen log across a forest road. Crossing the road, he stole two bear cubs estimated to have been four weeks old at the time. For some reason, Setzer abducted the cubs and took them to his worksite at a local timber company. After being discovered, he ultimately pleaded guilty to unlawful possession and obstructing wildlife officers.

So, how did he obstruct wildlife officers? On March 9 back in 2019, he contacted wildlife officers and claimed he found them alongside a highway. However, a wildlife officer wasn’t convinced Setzer was being honest when he visited the area Setzer described and found no bear tracks. This prompted him to begin an investigation. Through DNA testing, it came to light the cubs likely were born in the Sacramento River canyon. This area happened to be 90 miles south of where Setzer said he found the cubs.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Setzer’s co-worker confessed everything to wildlife officers when asked about the curious cub situation. “The other person literally brought them back to the den site,” he said.

Officials took the cubs to CDFW’s Wildlife Health Laboratory in Rancho Cordova. They later traveled to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care for rehabilitation. Finally, they returned to their native Shasta County habitat after growing old enough to fend for themselves.

The court ordered Setzer to pay $2,290 in fines and fees, as well as complete 200 hours of community service.

New Hampshire Homeowner Clears Brush and Finds Abandoned Bear Cubs in Den

Though Cody Setzer’s claims of finding abandoned bear cubs happened to be false, a New Hampshire homeowner truly did. While clearing a brush pile on their property, they found a den with three bear cubs inside.

Early last month, New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division posted about the story on their official Facebook account. The homeowner accidentally destroyed the bear den while removing a large brush pile, scaring the mother bear away. To his surprise, three cubs remained.

“Earlier today a homeowner who was removing a large brush pile from their property inadvertently destroyed a bear den,” the post reads. “The mother ran off unharmed but left 3 cubs behind. CO Shawn MacFadzen was able to secure the three cubs and a decision was made that they would be brought to the Kilham Bear Center by a Fish and Game Dept. Biologist.”

The Kilham Bear Center did a follow-up post of their own, saying they received the three cubs were happy and eating well.