Man and Mother Bear | Cades Cove

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.

Baby Bears of Cades Cove

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:

Mother Bear Cades Cove

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.

Mother Bear Cades Cove

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:

Mother Bear Cades Cove

Drops being added to her eyes:

Mother Bear Cades Cove

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.

Mother Bear Cades Cove

Mother Bear Cades Cove

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.)

Mother Bear Cades Cove

The blue/green paste on her gum is to deaden the gum for the extraction.

Mother Bear Cades Cove

Mother Bear Cades CoveMother Bear Cades Cove

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.

Mother Bear Cades CoveMother Bear Cades Cove

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!

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  • Cades Cove | Mother Bear TaggingJune 8, 2014 - 9:26 am

    […] Man and Mother Bear | Cades Cove […]

  • Carol RothschildJune 9, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    What an amazing opportunity for your to photograph. And, isn’t wonderful that our rangers are so careful with their furry neighbors.

  • Kathy SmithJune 9, 2014 - 3:00 pm

    Yes Carol it was an interesting thing to see.

  • Cindy MitchellJune 9, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    Wow!!! What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing with those of us who were not there. Great photos too!!

  • Kathy SmithJune 9, 2014 - 5:30 pm

    Thanks Cindy!

  • Steve FerendoJune 9, 2014 - 7:57 pm

    Great series of photos. Thanks for your comment on my FB page. It was great talking to you, too. I really enjoy meeting folks with similar interests and passions. I’m sure we will be back in the future.

  • Tyson SmithJune 10, 2014 - 9:38 am

    Thanks, Steve. I enjoyed meeting you.

  • Merri HornbergerJune 22, 2014 - 7:35 am

    What a wonderful story and opportunity to see this and to photograph!

  • chrisJune 10, 2015 - 12:45 am

    I enjoyed your images and story!

  • David AdamsApril 21, 2016 - 12:11 pm

    This technique is called “hazing”. Extracting the tooth for age identity is a tale they tell visitors when in actuality they are causing discomfort so that she’ll associate pain with humans. Last year a mother bear lost her only cub when they attempted relocation. They left her in the evening when she was still unresponsive and a predator took her only cub. Btw, the bear in this photo was relocated also. Her yearlings still remain in Cades Cove. These “methods” are not always in the best interest of the bears!