The Wildlife Center of Virginia has a pair of new patients: Two furry, orphaned black bear cubs.
The cubs were admitted to the wildlife center on June 6, shortly after their mother was reportedly shot by a homeowner in Amherst County.
According to the wildlife center, the homeowner, who has not been identified, complained to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries about a mother black bear and her two young cubs eating from the bird feeders in his yard.
Though the homeowner was advised to remove the feeders -- it is illegal to feed black bears in Virginia, albeit intentional or not, according to the Wildlife Center of Virginia -- he allegedly did not.
When the bears inevitably returned, the homeowner shot the animal with what he believed to be a rubber buckshot, "a technique sometimes used to discourage bears from returning to a property once the food source is removed,” according to the wildlife center. But the homeowner reportedly mistakenly used a regular buckshot instead, ultimately killing the mother bear.
Jaime Sajecki, a biologist with the Wildlife Center of Virginia, called the incident an “appalling tragedy,” adding that using a buckshot as a way to discourage the bears from returning would have been “ineffective,” as “hazing works when there is no reason for the bear to return - it needs to be coupled with attractant removal,” she said.
The two male cubs are “bright and in good body condition,” according to the wildlife center, though one of the two had a small cut on its right front paw when it arrived.
The cubs will remain with the wildlife center until April of next year, according to The Associated Press. At that time, they will be released into the wild.