Officials at Appalachian Bear Rescue in Townsend, Tennessee, said they had a tense 24 hours from Tuesday night into Wednesday when an intruder bear made its way into their enclosure area. At the last feeding before sundown on Tuesday night, Head Curator Coy Blair noticed an extra bear in the enclosure where cubs Bobbie Blue, Ridgeway, Marvin, Carter, Noli and Sola are living. The intruder appeared to be an adolescent male, around 150 to 175 pounds.
The bear had got past two sets of fencing, barbed wire, an electric wire
and scaled a protective sleeve around a hemlock tree, coming to a rest
in its highest branches.
“Kind of had some finesse getting in there to be 166 pounds. I do
imagine that he got zapped at least once probably by electric, but at
that point he probably just dropped right in just eight feet or so,”
Blair called the Parks Service and TWRA to help. ABR says male bears are
not friendly to cubs and if the intruder saw them as competition, he
could have done them harm.
There was also a chance the cubs might see the intruder in the same way
and initiate a confrontation.
“They definitely noticed him. They definitely seemed on edge,” said
Blair. “Larger bears like that can definitely hurt them especially if
there was some kind of competition between the food source.”
Parks officers and curators used paint ball and bean bag guns to
encourage the intruder to come down, without success. Humane traps were
then set to either capture the intruder or lure the cubs out of harm’s
way. Only one cub cooperated.
In the early morning, officers were able to sedate the intruder. They
measured it, took fur samples and ear tagged it.
It weighted in at 166 pounds. It was released in a location far from
ABR. Officials say they do not fault the bear and hope to prevent
similar occurrences in the future.
Curators believe the bear followed his nose into their enclosure in search of food.
“There is something going on right now in the wild. Bears are turning up
everywhere. They’re having a very hard time. I’m hopeful that the hard
mast will be sufficient enough to care for all the bears, but there’s a
good chance it won’t,” said Blair.
Appalachian Bear Rescue is a nonprofit group working to black bears that
are orphaned, injured or in need of medical care.