It’s not every day you get to witness a Park Ranger carrying a mother bear down the road in Cades Cove! My husband, Tyson, and I were driving through Cades Cove when traffic began to go the pace of ‘bear sighting’ speed. If you have ever been to Cades Cove you know what I mean! There were three baby bears in the tree causing this traffic jam.
We decided to park and walk back to the Ranger’s truck. He proceeded to tell us that the mother and these three cubs had been staying close to the road over the past few weeks and of course mom was getting upset with all the visitors. The park tries its best to keep these wonderful animals out of harms way. In the best interest of the bears, park Rangers will tranquilize the mother for a few hours. This process, per the Ranger, will make the mother take the cubs further into the forest and away from possible contact with humans, This process can save the mother’s life because if she attacks a visitor she most likely would have to be put down. The park takes every precaution possible to keep this from happening.
A few minutes later this is the site we saw coming down the road:
Granted, this is not what we were expecting to see! I was later told mother bear probably weighed 130-140 lbs. This Ranger had carried mother bear quite a ways back to the tree her cubs were in.
These two Rangers handled mother bear with care! They would proceed to tag her ear, take her temperature, measurements, add drops to her eyes and cover her head so trash would not get into her eyes while she was still under. Someone was notating all the information the Ranger was calling out so it could be kept on file for this bear.
Measurements being taken:
Drops being added to her eyes:
To accurately tell how old this mother bear is the Ranger pulled one of her teeth. He explained this is a tooth they do not use much and is normally done with all taggings. It will be sent off and cut with a lazer to see how many layers there are similar to telling the age of a tree.
All during this process the Ranger was telling those of us looking on what he was doing and why. I do not know these two guys’ names, but they did a wonderful job! (Update: These two guys’ names are Ranger Rick Varner and his helper, Cory Clark.)
The blue/green paste on her gum is to deaden the gum for the extraction.
The cubs were ready for ‘mamma’ to wake up and play! Each time one would start down the tree one of the Rangers would tap on the bottom of the tree trunk with a stick to make sure they all stayed together in the tree until mother bear was awake and ready to take them off in the woods.
We left before the process was complete, but the Ranger said they would put her into a cage so when she woke she would not stagger off. Once she was fully awake and all visitors had cleared out they would reunite mother and cubs and all would be happy.
It was a very interesting ride through Cades Cove!