POSTED: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 12:45pm
UPDATED: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 12:49pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — A California man accused of trying to sell two bear cubs at a Nevada County gas station denies the allegations and says his intent was to get the cubs to a safe location.
On Wednesday California Department of Fish and Game wardens received a tip that a man -- later identified as Chris Puett -- was attempting to sell caged bear cubs at a gas station in the remote community of North San Juan.
Puett said he took in the bear cubs after he shot the mother bear in self-defense.
Puett said that the mother bear stole dog food on his property in rural Nevada County on three consecutive nights.
On the fourth night, Puett said, he was outside his trailer with his shotgun when the bear attacked him.
Puett said he fired his gun in self defense and hit the bear.
The bear ran away, leaving the cubs near Puett's property.
Puett said he called a Department of Fish and Game number and was told by the person who answered the phone to either kill the cubs or let them go.
That is when Puett, who recently moved to the area, says he went into town and asked people where he should take the cubs.
Puett denies ever trying to sell the animals.
The black bear cubs, which are about 4 months old, are in good condition and were temporarily being held at the Department of Fish and Game headquarters in Rancho Cordova.
By Thursday evening, Ann Bryant, a representative for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, a non-profit in South Lake Tahoe, said the organization had taken possession of the cubs and will care for them until about February when they'll release them back into the wild.
"They will be raised with very little human contact," Bryant said. "We try to teach them the same things that their mothers would."
Puett is under investigation but currently has not been charged or cited.
An investigator did find blood at his property, and the blood is now being analyzed.
The body of the mother bear has not been found.