California man pleads guilty to stealing bear cubs from den


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Never remove bear cubs from their den.

A California man recently pleaded guilty to stealing two bear cubs from a den in northern Shasta County. The cubs were eventually turned over to a wildlife center, where they remained until it was determined they could be returned to the wild.

Cody Dylon Setzer of Siskiyou County took the cubs when they were four weeks old, according to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The incident originally took place in 2019.

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The cubs were estimated to be just four months old when they were brought out of their den.
(California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Authorities first became aware of the cubs when Setzer contacted them and said he found them near a highway north of Yreka. Wildlife officials, however, could not locate any bear tracks in the area and were suspicious of the story.

It was eventually determined that the bears came from Shasta County, which is about 90 miles from where Setzer claimed to have found them.

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife urges residents to avoid disturbing bear dens.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife urges residents to avoid disturbing bear dens.
(Stock)

Wild officers determined Setzer had found the bears when a falling tree uncovered a den. The tree had fallen on an access road to a construction site and was discovered by Setzer and a colleague from a local timber management company.

Setzer and his colleague reportedly destroyed the den and the cubs’ mother was never found.

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The cubs' original mother bear was never found, so they could not be returned to her.

The cubs’ original mother bear was never found, so they could not be returned to her.
(Stock)

The cubs were taken to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care facility, where they remained until April 2020. The cubs were the longest ever cared for at the facility. They were released when they were considered old enough to survive on their own.

Setzer pleaded guilty to stealing the cubs and had that sentence combined with a separate, unrelated case. He was ordered to pay a $2,290 fine and perform 200 hours of community service. He was also placed on probation for 12 months and lost his hunting and fishing privileges during this time.

Setzer faces a 90 prison term, although he could avoid it if he completes his probation.


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