MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is reminding residents that there may be a good reason why some black bear cubs appear to be alone.
Mother bears tend to search for food when it is scarce. Mother place cubs in areas that they believe are safe while she is searching for food. A cub may be alone for hours until the mother returns.
TWRA says this is similar to a human leaving a child with a babysitter, however, the “sitter” could be a tree near a person’s home.
If a cub is actually an orphan, TWRA will take the animal to the Appalachian Bear Rescue for rehabilitation. Only TWRA and National Park Service are allowed to catch and deliver a bear to the organization.
Rollo is the newest cub to join Appalachian Bear Rescue.
“Some individuals found it, it was somewheat lifeless just laying on the side of the road. They picked it up and took it to a house and gave it some water,” said David Whitehead, a curator at Appalachian Bear Rescue. “Once he got rehydrated and got to feeling better, he was very vocal and very active.”
The cub may look cute and cuddly, but wildlife officials are reminding people that bear cubs are not to be played with like stuffed animals.
“Gradually a few more calls are coming in of people seeing individual cubs walking around, which doesn’t neccessarily mean they’re orphaned,” said Whitehead.
TWRA should only be contacted about a suspected orphaned bear cub if the animal has been alone for more than 36 hours or if the mother is confirmed dead.
ABR says if you spot a bear cub, do not go near it. Also, do not take pictures of it by standing under a tree. This can make the mother feel threatened and not return.
“The worst thing you can do is to take a cub that is not truly orphaned from its mother,” says ABR President Dana Dodd. “The best case scenario is for a cub is to remain with its mother because she can do a far better job at raising it than ABR can.”
Appalachian Bear Rescue is holding its first ever Appalachian Bear Fest at Trillium Cove on Saturday, June 3, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Townsend. Proceeds benefit the organization.