In the mountains of West Virginia, Joel Rosenthal, 74, raises his bear cubs, five of them, on a wildlife refuge.
Rosenthal, a retired biologist, founded Point of View Farm in 2000 to get away from people. In interviews he admits to preferring four-legged animals to the two-legged variety.
“There’s nobody that lives on my side of the river for miles,” he told WVVA, “When I run across the river, I run into these two-legged animals wearing clothes, and they make funny noises and they scare me.”
Rosenthal cares for orphaned and injured wildlife until they’re ready to live on their own. The bear cubs, in particular, he protects during hunting season. The bears are raised in his own house, and Rosenthal spends his days napping with them, nursing them by hand, and hiking with them.
“It’s really special to be able to hike around with two or three bear cubs that are just following me,” he told the New York Post. “I really have to pinch myself all the time because I can’t believe I’m doing this — that I have this relationship with these animals.”
His dream however was not so easily realized. Rosenthal took a case all the way to the Virginia State Supreme Court to assure his right to care for the animals.
In 2005, the Department of National Resources in Virginia had issued him a cease and desist order. After a four-year legal battle (Rosenthal represented himself), he won the right to care for the bears and other animals on his farm.
He admits there might be some danger in raising wild bears but throws out the received wisdom of avoiding the animals entirely. “I consider bears to be very, very safe, but all the statistics bail that out, regardless of anything that I am prejudiced about,” he told the Post. “In North America over the last 100 years plus, I believe that there are 60 or 70 documented cases of black bears actually killing anybody.”
Rosenthal has never be hurt by interacting with black bears!