Woman faces charges for helping bear
HOMEWOOD – A woman who spends her days caring for injured animals faces up to a year in jail for removing a sickly bear cub from the wild.
In March, employees of a ski resort noticed the skinny little animal skulking around their lodge. For days staffers tried to drive the female cub back into the wild but it didn’t work. So they called Ann Bryant.
State officials advised Bryant to use the standard aversion technique of ”hazing” – which deploys everything from loud noise to pepper spray – to drive the cub away, but in this particular situation, she believed such methods were inappropriate.
Bryant and some volunteers herded the emaciated animal into a dog kennel and took it to a wildlife rehabilitation center in South Lake Tahoe.
Although Fish and Game officials said she broke the law, they didn’t cite Bryant right away. However they did write a report laying out the case and earlier this month she was arrested for allegedly violating state rules against removing any native animal from the wild. She spent an hour in jail before being released on her own recognizance.
Prosecutors in Placer County have charged Bryant with two misdemeanor counts. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A trial date is to be set early next year.
The 49-year-old Bryant defended her actions, saying the animal was only 36 pounds, about a third the typical weight of a yearling, and weak.
”This bear was in danger of dying,” she said.
But game wardens said the bear should have been given several more days before a rescue attempt was launched.
Officials also said actions similar to Bryant’s do not help bears.
Relocating a bear to new territory, they say, only puts the newcomer in a precarious position with other bears where fights and fatal injuries are likely. Bears that grow accustomed to humans and free handouts, meanwhile, become deadbeats hanging on the edges of civilization while wrecking property and posing a threat to people.
The state later seized the bear and took it to a Sacramento County field office, where it was nursed to health. And with donations from Bryant’s animal activist group, the BEAR League, it was shipped to a permanent home at a wildlife sanctuary in Texas.
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