Disturbing moment people are seen tearing bear cubs from trees - and dropping them

A video has shown the lengths some people will go to in order to take a picture — even if it means risking their lives.

The footage, captured on Tuesday and posted to social media, showed a group of approximately six people in Buncombe County, North Carolina plucking black bear cubs from a tree and pulling them over a fence to use as photo props.

One woman can be seen holding a cub and taking a selfie with it before dropping the animal. The cub tries to run away and she gives chase.

Witnesses to the scene called the police, who responded to stop the group harassing the bears. A state wildlife commission representative was also called to assist, according to local TV out WLOS.

"Oh my god, she's holding the bear," a woman's voice, which can be heard saying on video. "That's insane."

A voice can then be heard saying: "Did she just drop it? Oh my gosh it's running, the poor little thing.”

Another off-camera voice shouts: "Put it back, it's scared".

A group of people in North Carolina can be seen grabbing bear cubs after pulling them out of a tree to take photos (screengrab/ABC6 Philadelphia)
A group of people in North Carolina can be seen grabbing bear cubs after pulling them out of a tree to take photos (screengrab/ABC6 Philadelphia)

By the time Ashley Hobbs, a biologist from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, arrived only a single cub was left in the area, she said.

She described the cub as being cold and very wet but unharmed. The animal was taken to a rehab facility.

"We do think that the bear probably had a pretty traumatic experience," Ms Hobbs told WLOS.

The biologist spoke to the group about how to respond responsibly to seeing bear cubs.

"We let them know how irresponsible and potentially deadly it could be for that cub to be separated from its mom," Ms Hobbs said.

The people who handled the bear cubs were residents of a nearby apartment complex, according to the Citizen Times.

A staff member at the complex recognised the individuals in the video and called law enforcement during their interaction with the cubs.

Bears are known to be exceptionally protective of their young, meaning that the group took a significant risk handling the creatures.

When mother bears leave to find food, they often put their cubs in a tree to keep them safe in their absence. It is likely that the mother was somewhere in the area while the group was taking photos with her cubs.

Ms Hobbs expressed frustration after viewing the video.

“It is frustrating to see people be that irresponsible around wildlife because it is a blessing that we get to live in the mountains around these creatures,” she said.