Orphaned black bear cub successfully placed with foster mother in the wilds of Tennessee

Sometimes timing is everything in animal rescue.

Little more than a week ago, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was in the field removing a radio collar with a dead battery from a female black bear. She happened to be denned with two six-week-old cubs in the Cherokee National Forest.

The region’s manager Mitch Clure and technician Steve Massengill had the chance to safely hold the tiny bear cubs when their mother was tranquilized, according to the government’s March 6 Facebook post.

Biologists collected information & placed pit tags on the the tiny bear cubs. Photo: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency/Facebook

The cubs were not harmed while biologists took down information about them and removed their mother’s dead radio collar.

Little did this family know they’d soon have a third cub in their midst.

A rare treat for field workers. Photos: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency/Facebook

On March 4, a sow was killed by a car in nearby Cocke County leaving an orphan behind.

“A passerby heard a bear cub crying,” the agency noted.

That person contacted Appalachian Bear Rescue, which took in rescue cub #346, christened Peace Bear as a sign of the times.

“The bear is a male cub-of-the-year, about seven weeks old, and weighs 1.8 pounds ( 0.816 kg),” the bear rescue group noted. “He seems to be in good health, strong of voice and sharp of claw!”

They put him in the cub nursery where he was bottle fed every three hours, burped and guided into being a bear.

At the same time, the team went to work to find a foster mother.

That’s when something clicked.

Officials remembered the mother and cubs and hatched a plan to place the orphaned cub with the sow in U.S. Forest Service – Cherokee National Forest.

Soon, the Appalachian Bear Rescue team met up with Officer Massengill and proceeded on a long hike in mountainous terrain to the den area.

They quietly approached the site and could hear mother bear and cubs nursing.

Peace Bear was removed from the backpack and, using a catch pole, placed at the opening of the den so no human would have to get too close.

They hoped this momma bear would be perfect.

“She had fostered cubs before, and the orphaned cub was similar in size to her cubs,” the Tennessee wildlife agency said. “The cub was placed in the entrance to her den. She reached out with a paw and pulled the new cub to her.”

“The arrow points to his little feet as he scampers in to join his new family,” officials said. Photo: Appalachian Bear Rescue/Facebook

How’s that for serendipity?

“Now there’s a happy ending,” the agency added.

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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