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Man cited for unlawful possession — of a bear cub

A Sunny Valley man faces a misdemeanor wildlife charge after allegedly finding a wounded bear in the woods and bringing it home to teach it to be wild, authorities said.

Troopers from the Oregon State Police's Fish and Wildlife Division seized a small black bear cub from Gabe Maranov, 28, who reportedly had the cub at home for about two weeks, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

When seized, the animal had a scab over what appeared to be a tear wound to its right side, says Mark Vargas, the ODFW's Rogue District wildlife biologist. The wound could have come from any number of sources, such as a dog or another bear, Vargas says.

"He thought he could raise this thing and teach it to be wild," Vargas says. "He wasn't about to get that done from his house."

Wildlife officials have no idea whether the bear was somehow orphaned, Vargas says.

Maranov was cited May 15 for unlawful possession of a black bear cub, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $6,250 fine. He was ordered to appear in Josephine County Circuit Court.

Maranov could not be reached for comment.

The bear was taken to Wildlife Safari in Winston, where it likely will remain in captivity for the remainder of its life, says Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"Our recommendation is that it cannot go back to the wild," Dennehy says. "It's so habituated it can't be returned."

Due to ODFW policy, habituated bears cannot be released into the wild because of their propensity to cause more damage, Vargas says. Rarely does a qualified place like Wildlife Safari take a bear like this, he says.

This ruined bruin is the latest in the annual spate of cases in which Oregonians take in young wildlife they mistakenly believe to be orphaned, usually ending in a death sentence for the animal.

From seal pups to deer fawns and even a small cougar cub last fall in the woods near Elk Creek, animals are taken in spring by humans who often do not realize that young animals are often left by a parent while foraging or trying to lure predators away from the infant.

Those that make it home often become sick if bottle-fed milk, leading to scouring and eventual death.

Biologists say Maranov would have done better had he mirrored the actions of one of his neighbors who discovered the same cub April 26. That person telephoned the OSP, and officers said to leave the animal alone to see whether its mother would recover it, Vargas says.

The bear was gone that next morning, Vargas says.

A telephone tip to Vargas led police to Maranov, Vargas says.

In 2004, Coos County loggers Rocky and Jonathan Perkett found an apparently orphaned cub while logging windfall timber in Coos County. They illegally brought the bear home, named it Windfall and "raised her like a daughter," as Rocky Perkett said, feeding it Dr. Pepper and pizza.

The bear roamed free at their rural Allegany home, occasionally sleeping and showering with Jonathan Perkett. After neighbors complained, the OSP in October 2005 seized the 150-pound bear and eventually shipped it to a Sacramento-area zoo, where it remains.

In 2006, Rocky Perkett pleaded guilty to the same charge on which Maranov was cited. Perkett paid a $600 fine as part of his plea agreement.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.