A Tennessee homeowner has agreed to take on some ursine guests in order to reunite a mother bear with her cubs.
Wildlife experts with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Appalachian Bear Rescue returned three baby bears to the space under a Sevier County home where they’d rescued the animals from a gas leak last weekend.
While hosting a family of bears under your home may sound like a nightmare for many homeowners, in this case it was the best solution for the cubs. The bear rescue took in the three cubs after officials were able to get the mother bear to leave. Thinking she wouldn’t be back, they fed the baby bears from a bottle and began planning to place them into another bear’s litter before the spring.
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But then the mother bear did return to the home a day later after the gas leak was fixed, according to the TWRA.
Dan Gibbs, bear coordinator for the TWRA, said the “very gracious” homeowner agreed to let the bears stay. So they changed plans and looked for ways to safely reunite the family.
“The best place for any young wildlife is with its mother, obviously,” Gibbs said in a video posted on the TWRA Facebook page.
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Using a vent hole on the side of the basement, the wildlife experts were able to drop the cubs in without having to come between them and the mother bear. The TWRA’s video shows one close call with Gibb’s hand as the mother sticks her snout into the hole to grab her crying cubs, apparently eager to have them back.
“She’s a good size and she was obviously ready to come and get her young,” Coy Blair, lead curator at the Appalachian Bear Rescue, said in the video.
This region of Tennessee is known for its big bear population. It’s the same area where a viral video last fall showed a rider on a theme park’s mountain coaster hitting the brakes in order to avoid a family of bears crossing the track, and another video shared online showed one brazen bear digging through a trash can in a busy food court at the same park.
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Kim Delozier, coordinator at BearWise, an education program to help people live responsibly with bears in their community, said in the TWRA’s video that trash can sometimes attract bears to areas where humans are living. Then some bears end up settling near or under porches and homes in order to stay near the food source.
“There’s a lot of bears here, and a lot of competition for space, for dens, for food and everything, too,” he said.