Tennessee Mama Bear Adopts 7-week-old Cub After Birth Mom Hit by Car

A mama bear in Tennessee adopted a seven-week-old cub that was found crying at the side of the road after its birth mom was killed by a car.

The orphaned bear cub was found by a passerby in the Cherokee National Forest in Cocke County, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said on Facebook. The cub was then taken in by the Appalachian Bear Rescue before they attempted to introduce him to a new mother.

Wildlife officers had come across the mama bear, who was nursing two healthy cubs of her own, just a week before. This particular female had adopted orphaned bear cubs in the past.

Bear cubs can survive without their mothers from about five months old, however, until then, they are totally dependent on their mothers. Bears are fiercely protective of their young—and while it is not unheard of for female bears to adopt young cubs, it is still a rarity.

Wildlife officials hiked to the mother bear's den with the orphaned cub in a backpack, with extra blankets and bottles of formula, the bear rescue said on Facebook.

As they approached the den, rescuers could hear the cubs nursing with their mother, which meant "timing was perfect."

The curators then delivered the cub to the opening of the den, keeping their distance. The mother bear then reached out with a paw and pulled the orphaned cub close to her.

"Peace Bear scampered into the den very quickly. We caught one final glimpse of his little feet as he disappeared from sight and joined his new bear family," Appalachian Bear Rescue said on Facebook.

"Timing is critical" when introducing a bear cub to a different mother, and is "no easy feat," the Appalachian Bear Rescue said.

As they brought the bear cub to his foster family, curators at the bear rescue had to stop along the way to feed him.

"You want to do things just right...the fostered cub needs to be full enough not to make too many loud noises as you approach the den site and hungry enough to nurse from his new Mom as soon as he enters the new den. It's a delicate balance," the bear rescue said.

The Cherokee National Forest is home to about 1,500 black bears. However, the reclusive species is rarely seen by visitors.

In 2019, bears getting hit by cars near National parks was becoming a problem. Tennessee television station WBIR reported that 35 bears were killed by cars near the Smoky mountains in just ten months. This was put down to a growing human population around bear habitats.

Bear cub
The bear cub was affectionately named 'Peace Bear' before he was introduced to his foster family, who adopted him with little fuss. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency