Small black bear captured in Elizabethton business district

Published 6:30 pm Monday, April 10, 2023

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Star Correspondent
A small male black bear captured in a busy Elizabethton business district on Sunday is now being taken care of at Appalachian Bear Rescue in the Smoky Mountains.
The bear, which authorities said was likely searching for food, was picked up near the Citizens Bank on Broad Street.
Upon arriving at the bank, officers pointed to the cub up a magnolia tree, according to Geri Wynn with Wynnwood Wildlife Rehab. Wynn climbed up the tree, grabbed the bear with heavy gloves and checked to determine whether the bear was dehydrated.
Wynn then got the bear into a net and lowered it to the ground. The bear was then taken to Wynnwood Wildlife Rehab.
“Female bears with cubs are starting to emerge from dens in search of food,” said Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Black Bear Support Biologist Janelle Musser.
Bear cubs born in February are still dependent on their mother this time of year, she said. Cubs can become temporarily separated from their mothers for many reasons or female bears may stash their cubs in an area and return after they forage for food themselves, she added.
“Elizabethton is adjacent to bear habitat and it is common for bears to travel through the area,” Musser said. “It is possible the female bear may have returned to this cub during the night, but the cub was removed from the wild by individuals before that could happen.”
Due to the uncertainty of the female bear returning and people interfering with the natural behavior of bears, the decision was made to place the bear in the care of Appalachian Bear Rescue, Musser said.
Appalachian Bear Rescue is the only entity licensed in the state of Tennessee to care for and rehabilitate black bears, according to the TWRA.
The organization, based in Townsend, Tenn., learned of the bear largely via Facebook messages and social media posts. The organization reached out to the TWRA and ABR Director Dana Dodd and a curator drove to pick up the bear.
Wynnwood Wildlife Rehab in Carter County was the first organization to care for the bear until ABR staff were able to pick it up. By the time ABR staff arrived back in Townsend with the bear, it was too late to visit the veterinarian.
The little bear is a male cub-of-the-year, about 10 weeks old, and weighs 4.6 pounds, a good weight for a cub his age, ABR said in a Facebook update on Monday. The bear is able to eat from a bowl, which means it won’t need to be bottle-fed, the post states.
The bear, which ABR named Thumper, was scheduled to visit The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine on Monday.
“Please welcome Thumper Bear, named in honor of all bunnies,” ABR said.
Musser said it is common to see bear cubs without their mothers at this time of year, especially in trees.
“Bear cubs will remain in a tree until they feel it is safe to climb down, typically when people and vehicles are not around or their mother returns,” Musser said. “TWRA does not typically intervene until cubs have been alone for 36 hours. They can survive this time period and it allows the female bear a chance to return.”
Residents should report orphaned or injured bear cubs to the TWRA, and Musser said they should never attempt to capture or feed bear cubs as this can be dangerous and detrimental for people and bears.
Elizabethton Police Chief Jason Shaw said his officers were also called to the area on Sunday to monitor the bear until it could be safely rescued.

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