Bear Cubs Orphaned After Mother Was Hunted Illegally

Officials were notified that a hunter allegedly killed a bear illegally outside of bear hunting season in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. When they arrived at the scene, they discovered two bear cubs near their mother's body.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police published a post to its Facebook page on January 26 to announce that the agency was contacted by an individual who wanted to self-report a bear that was killed just after the closure of bear season in Ashburnham.

"The reporting party indicated they did not realize the season had closed," the post read.

The state released the official hunting season dates for the 2022 season. The first season starts September 6 and will end September 24, the second season begins November 7 and will end November 26 and shotgun season opens November 28 and closes December 10.

Those who harvest a black bear are expected to submit a tooth and hair sample to MassWildlife.

"Teeth are used to determine a bear's age, and hairs are used to study bear genetics," the website explains.

In Massachusetts, the black bear population has been growing since the 1970s and is estimated to have grown to 4,500. They primarily live and breed in Worcester County, northern Middlesex County and west of the Berkshires.

Officials with the Massachusetts Environmental Police went to the hunter's home and found a young bear cub in the bed of a truck with the deceased bear. A second bear cub was found close by.

When looking into the call, officials learned that the individual tried to have the bear illegally processed in New Hampshire the same day the report was made.

"It was reported that the individual advised the butcher that the bear had been killed on Saturday, the final day of bear season; however the butcher determined the bear had been killed that day and not on the day the individual originally claimed," the Facebook post read.

The butcher refused to process the bear and called New Hampshire Fish and Game.

It was later learned that the hunter shot the bear as it fed on birdseed in their backyard.

Officials did not share what happened to the bear cubs.

The hunter faces a number of charges, including the illegal taking of a black bear, hunting during a closed season and illegal hunting of a bear in a baited area. The bow used to kill the bear was taken and the bear was donated.

Newsweek reached out to the Massachusetts Environmental Police for additional information but did not hear back by press time.

Black Bear and Cubs
Officials charged a hunter for reportedly killing a black bear outside of the regulated hunting season. Above, a stock image of a black bear with cubs. dssimages/iStock

In September, another mother bear was fatally shot and left behind bear cubs, who were likely euthanized.

Newsweek reported officials with Idaho Fish and Game issued a release that stated residents heard rifle shots near Priest Lake in North Idaho. The mother bear was found to have been shot several times and her body was "left to waste." Her cubs were not found.

According to the statement, if the cubs were found, they would likely need to be put down because they would have been unable to survive the winter months on their own.