The hiker who risked a year in jail to save a baby black bear he encountered on a trail has opened up about his deed, saying he would do it again.
Photographer Corey Hancock was hiking a scenic trail in Oregon when he came across a frail 3-month-old baby bear Monday night.
“I didn’t have a choice, I wouldn’t have left it out there,” he told Inside Edition. “He seemed to be abandoned and dying. He was hardly moving at first when I walked up on him. I thought was dead.”
The cub, weighing just five pounds, looked certain to die. Hancock decided to rescue him and carried him for more than two miles.
“I was carrying this little lifeless creature in my arms kind of wondering if he was going to make it,” he said. “I tried to give it CPR. I gave it a few rescue puffs and pushed on his chest. He took one breath. He was fighting to survive.”
Hancock drove the bear to a wildlife center near Salem, Ore., where he is recovering well but can never be returned to the wild. Animal experts believe the hiker was out of line.
Interfering with wildlife and taking them out of their natural habitat is illegal, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The good Samaritan could have been fined $6,000 or even been sent to jail for a year.
On Wednesday, the Oregon State Police said that Hancock, who says he felt “a special bond with that little bear,” will not be punished for what he did.