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Bear cub rescued in Meherrin

A Meherrin woman was able to share a special bond with a lost bear cub when it ventured into her backyard Monday, April 20.

Now, the orphaned cub and its sibling are being cared for by The Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Karren Cooper has always been a lover and rescuer of animals, so much in fact that her home is populated by 15 German Shepherds. She owns an 18-acre farm on Meherrin Road that serves as a horse rescue. Other animals on the property include cows, peacocks and a potbelly pig.

Cooper said she spent 15 years in the U.S. Army, but struggled finding a sense of normalcy after returning home. Her anxiety, she found, was quelled by the presence of animals.

“I used to only go out to the grocery store at 1 or 2 a.m. when nobody was around, but now I go out. I always have my dog with me, of course, but they’ve healed me. The animals have really healed me.”

Cooper said many of the animals on her property were acting strangely the night of Sunday, April 19. By 6 a.m. the following morning, she looked in her field and saw her cows chasing a small creature. At first, she assumed it was the pig, but, upon further inspection, Cooper saw a tiny bear cub barreling through the field.

Although she wanted to help the little animal, Cooper knew she had to be wary of a mother bear being nearby. As the cows weren’t harming the cub, she went back inside.

That afternoon, Cooper and her son, Ronald Jenkins, went outside to see the bear cub attempting to drink from a water trough. With no mother bear in sight and fearing the horses might hurt the cub, Jenkins caught the young bear and picked it up.

“It couldn’t have been more than a month old,” Cooper said.

The pair looked for signs of other bears, but none seemed to be around.

Cooper said after catching the cub she and her son contacted several different people before getting in touch with a conservation officer.

By the time the officer arrived, Cooper and Jenkins were well acquainted with the bear cub. The tiny creature proved to be rather snuggly and had become particularly attached to Jenkins.

“This thing bonded with my son, it was unbelievable. When my son left, the cub screamed,” Cooper added.

The family decided to call the bear, “Yoshi.”

Yoshi left with the officer, who instructed Cooper to stay on the lookout, as the mother had either abandoned the cub or had perhaps been killed. She was later informed a second cub had been located down the road.

Randy Huwa, executive vice president of the Wildlife Center of Virginia confirmed the center had admitted two black bear cubs, one male and one female, from Prince Edward County.

A report from the center said there were descriptions of an adult black bear sow in the area hit by a vehicle last week, although biologists were never able to locate the bear. The center expects the incident caused the cubs to be orphaned.

Huwa said the pair are the ninth and 10th cubs currently in the center’s care. The bear cubs will be with the Wildlife Center of Virginia until they are ready to fend for themselves in the wild, and are likely to have a release date in April of next year.

Readers can check in on the other eight cubs on the center’s live “Critter Cam” by going to http://www.wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/critter-cam-3. The new cubs, according to Huwa, should be joining the rambunctious group within a day or two.

Cooper has rescued many types of animals in the past, but Yoshi will stick out in her memories as one of the crazier animal encounters.