National

Three-legged bears are wandering around western North Carolina. Are traps to blame?

How much do you know about black bears?

On the first Saturday in June, National Black Bear Day recognizes the most commonly found bear in North America.
Up Next
On the first Saturday in June, National Black Bear Day recognizes the most commonly found bear in North America.

At least nine injured black bears have been spotted in the North Carolina mountains — and some are standing on just three legs, residents say.

Video shared with WLOS appears to show cubs next to a mother missing part of her front leg.

The animals were in Arden, where several other hurt bears have been roaming, according to a post Tuesday on a Facebook page called Help Asheville Bears.

Seven of the nine wounded bears spotted in a 25-mile area have leg injuries, and three of them are caring for cubs, the page says.

Residents organized after sharing “their own sightings” of three-legged bears, and they thought someone could be hurting them on purpose, Mountain Xpress reports.

There’s now a $7,000 reward for information about what’s behind the missing limbs, Help Asheville Bears says.

The animals have injuries similar to ones that come from trapping, a previous online post says.

The group says one Facebook user found traps in the area and that “bear paws are one of the items illegally sold to China.”

Earlier this year, a woman admitted to illegally buying North Carolina bear galbladders, which have been used in “traditional Chinese medicine for 3,000 years,” The Charlotte Observer reported.

An official with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission says there could be another explanation for the missing limbs, news outlets report.

“Most of the traps that are used these days are too small for that bear paw to even go into,” wildlife biologist Justin McVey said, according to Mountain Xpress. “If it was to snap on a bear, it might get a toe, but that’s not what’s happening.”

Instead, he thinks roadway encounters may have led to the leg injuries.

“Bears get hit by cars all the time, and unfortunately bears with three legs is not uncommon,” McVey told WLOS. “They adapt very well, and they can live a successful life.”

Arden is about 10 miles south of Asheville, a popular tourist town.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments