California man pleads guilty to bear-napping two tiny cubs from a den!

Fairfield, California - A Siskiyou County, California, man pleaded guilty to stealing two weeks-old bear cubs from a Northern California den in 2019, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said this week.

The two bear cubs were believed to be the youngest ever taken to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.
The two bear cubs were believed to be the youngest ever taken to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.  © Screenshot/Facebook/California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Cody Setzer (29) of Yreka took the cubs when they were less than four weeks old, authorities said.

The investigation began in March 2019, when Setzer contacted wildlife officers, claiming that he had found the cubs along Highway 263, north of Yreka.

"A wildlife officer became suspicious of Setzer's story when no bear tracks or habitat were found at the location where Setzer claimed he had found them," the Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

The cubs were taken to the department's Wildlife Health Laboratory in Rancho Cordova, where DNA testing revealed they were probably born in the Sacramento River Canyon in northern Shasta County, nearly 100 miles south of where Setzer said he found them.

"During the investigation, wildlife officers determined Setzer and a co-worker at a local timber management company took the cubs from a den inside a tree that had fallen across an access road to a work site," the department said.

The co-worker took officers to the site, where they collected evidence from the den that had been destroyed by the co-worker and Setzer, wildlife officials said.

The cubs' mother was never found.

The pair were eventually turned over to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, the youngest ever taken to the facility, officials said. After growing old enough to survive in the wild, the bears were released into their Shasta County habitat on April 28, 2020.

After pleading guilty in November to all charges, Setzer faces $2,290 in fines, 200 hours of community service, and 12 months probation, with his hunting and fishing privileges suspended.

An additional 90-day county jail sentence will be stayed after he completes his probation.

Cover photo: Screenshot/Facebook/California Department of Fish and Wildlife

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