Mama Bear’s Reaction to Cub Left in Her Den at Cherokee National Forest Goes Viral

by Amy Myers

A tragic story regarding an orphaned bear at Cherokee National Forest finally has a happy ending that’s sure to warm your heart.

Earlier this week, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) arrived at a scene when a car struck a sow in Cocke County. A passerby discovered that the bear actually had a cub when she heard the baby crying. So, she contacted Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR). Unfortunately, the mother bear passed away, but when ABR called TWRA, they had the perfect spot for the orphaned cub.

Last week, TWRA shared photos of a mama bear and her cubs snoozing in their den in Cherokee National Forest before they emerged from hibernation. According to the agency, this sow has fostered cubs before, so she was the perfect candidate for the orphaned babe that they found. Not to mention, the little cub was close to the size of the mother’s litter. So, the TWRA placed the cub with the U.S. Forest Service which delivered the orphan to the entrance of the mother’s den in Cherokee National Forest.

Sure enough, the sow “reached out with a paw and pulled the new cub to her.”

ABR confirmed on Facebook that the cub is healthy and has the characteristics he needs to survive.

“The bear is a male cub-of-the-year, about seven weeks old, and weighs 1.8 pounds,” Appalachian Bear Rescue wrote on Facebook. “He seems to be in good health, strong of voice and sharp of claw!”

Tennessee Officials Snap Photos of More Spring Bear Cubs Near Cherokee National Forest

Last week, TWRA unknowingly shared some adorable photos of the future orphaned cub’s siblings as well as some interesting facts about bears after hibernation.

In the snapshot, at least three little cubs peered up at the camera from behind their mother while the officials took the photo.

“Some black bears leave their dens to walk around, stretch their legs and then go back to sleep,” the agency shared. “Other bears leave dens for good. Bears emerge skinny, groggy, and thirsty and soon go looking for roughage. Newborn black bear cubs keep growing in their dens. Yearlings that denned up with mom last fall celebrate their first birthday. Bears get new ‘shoes.'”

According to the agency’s previous posts, they had visited the bear’s den in Cherokee National Forest to change the batteries of the sow’s tracker collar and collect biological information. It is likely that the TWRA used some sort of tranquilizer to temporarily immobilize the sow while they changed out the collar’s batteries. All the while, fellow agents got to spend some quality time with the cubs.

“While the collar was being removed, Clure and Massengill held the approx. six-week-old bear cubs while biologists collected information & placed pit tags,” TWRA explained.