A man from California has admitted to stealing two newborn cubs from their den.
According to officials, Cody Dylon Setzer, 29, contacted wildlife officers after he was unable to care for the cubs.
Wildlife officials said a man from Northern California pleaded guilty to possessing a restricted species after admitting to taking two bear pups from their den and notifying authorities when he was unable to care for them.
The month-old cubs were taken from their burrow in a tree that had fallen across a forest road by Cody Dylon Setzer, 29, and a coworker who has not been identified but has cooperated with authorities, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Setzer phoned wildlife authorities on March 9, 2019, and informed them that he had discovered the cub bears north of Yreka in Siskiyou County, according to the department.
However, when wildlife authorities went to the site and found no bear footprints or habitat, they were suspicious of his story.
“Bear cubs are completely reliant on their mother, and they would not have survived if they had gone off on their own,” said Capt. Patrick Foy of the department’s law enforcement branch.
According to Foy, Setzer’s coworker at a wood management firm confessed to wildlife officers and assisted with the inquiry.
He explained, “The other individual basically carried them back to the den site.”
The den site was located in Shasta County, east of Salt Creek and Interstate 5, roughly 90 miles south of where Setzer claimed he discovered them and destroyed them. According to Foy, their mother was never found.
According to California wildlife officials, a Northern California man admitted to stealing the two bear cubs from their den in 2019 and pled guilty to possession of a restricted species in November 2021.
The bear cubs were escorted to the CDFW’s Wildlife Health Laboratory in Rancho Cordova before being given over to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care for rehabilitation, where they were described as the youngest bear cubs ever brought into the institution.
After growing mature enough to survive on their own, the cubs were reintroduced to their natural environment in Shasta County on April 28, 2020, according to the department.
The agency posted the incident on its bear blog on Tuesday to encourage anyone who sees wildlife poaching to report it to police.
Setzer pled guilty to possession of a restricted species and impeding a peace officer in the course of his duties in Siskiyou Superior Court in November.
He was sentenced to pay a total of $2,290 in fines and costs, as well as 200 hours of community service. Setzer was also sentenced to 90 days in the county jail, which will be stayed if he successfully completes probation, and was placed on probation for 12 months with his hunting and fishing privileges suspended for the term of his probation, according to the department.