Hefty reward offered to cough-up culprits putting ‘Trump 2020’ stickers on wild black bear

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A North Carolina black bear is showing some support for President Donald Trump and animal rights activists are not happy about it.

In fact, the “Help Asheville Bears” organization is offering a $5,000 reward in an effort to find who the “cruel and heartless” person or people are responsible for attaching a “Trump 2020” sticker to a black bear’s tracking collar.  Asheville resident Sheila Chapman apparently found the bear on her front porch and reported the sticker to the group which fired off a message on Facebook.

Bears are NOT Billboards! Second black bear in Asheville,NC confirmed with political sticker on tracking collar….

Posted by Help Asheville Bears-HAB on Friday, July 31, 2020

“We have so many places in this world to put stickers and express our political views,” Chapman told WLOS. “Using a wild animal for that is cruel and inhuman. It’s not OK.”

“Bears are NOT Billboards!” the group, which describes itself as “consisting of a multi-range of professionals,” wrote on Facebook. “Second black bear in Asheville, NC confirmed with political sticker on tracking collar.”

“HAB is offering a $5,000 reward for information on the person(s) responsible for putting this political sticker on this beautiful bear who has already been trapped, tranquilized, and collared unnecessarily. This bear must wear this burdensome collar (now with a sticker) and bolts in its ears for worthless data,” the post continued.

The group noted the September 2019 story that ran in the Asheville Citizen-Times reporting on another bear whose collar was adorned with a Trump campaign message.

“This makes it twice that someone has put a political sticker on a bear’s collar in Asheville,” HAB wrote.

“Whoever put these political stickers on these bears is cruel and heartless. HAB and our followers hope to stop and expose you. This is now the second bear this happened to, which can only mean either someone in the study is doing this or it is someone in the public. Either way, a full investigation needs to be done,” the group added.

But an officer with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said no laws were broken so long as the bear was not injured and the collar not damaged, according to WLOS-TV.

Chapman, who reported the bear with the Trump sticker to HAB, had expressed her concern over the North Carolina Urban/Suburban Bear Study which collared the animals before going on about how she was “shocked” by the sticker.

“The group sounded committed to protecting our Urban bears and promoting their health and well being,” she wrote. “That is why I was shocked to see this on the bear’s collar today. I believe this is an abhorrent practice. These bears are already suffering enough with the heavy collars and metal ear mutilations. But to put a political sticker on the collar? No words can describe my anger and sadness.”

“It appears someone has been feeding bears on purpose and was able to get close enough to slap the sticker on,” Colleen Olfenbuttel, biologist for the Wildlife Management Division of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, told the Sacramento Bee.

“We were able to get that sticker off last year’s bear during den season. So it looks like the same person is up to the same shenanigans. We know that someone in the area, or maybe multiple people in the area, are hand feeding bears,”  Olfenbuttel added. “As for why the person is doing the stickers, I can’t say. … I wonder if it’s someone trying to discredit research going on in Asheville, or it could just be an ardent Trump supporter.”

Social media reactions poured in to the report with many wondering how anyone could have gotten so close to the bear to begin with.

“I don’t think no matter how much someone likes Trump, they would risk a limb to place a sticker on a bear’s collar,” a Facebook user named wrote on HAB’s page.

“I’m impressed. How the hell did they get the sticker on the collar without being mauled?” Vernon Jordan wondered.

The hashtag #BearsForTrump was also born.

Others wondered why there was more outrage over a sticker than the heavy collar that the bears are forced to wear.

Some Twitter users had a different theory altogether.


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