Bear cubs rescued from crawl space after residential gas leak in Sevier County

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Three bear cubs are being tended to following a weekend rescue from the crawl space of a Sevier County home.

Appalachian Bear Rescue was called Saturday, Feb. 13, about a bear denning under a house in Sevier County. The property owner had detected a gas leak and called the gas company to turn off the gas and get the line repaired. When the repair crew arrived and crawled under the house, they saw “the ample caboose of a very large snoozing bear.”

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was notified immediately and Sgt. David Sexton went to the scene to assess the situation. Initially, the large mammal was thought to be male and no cubs were heard.

“There was no way to know if the gas injured the bear, there was no way to safely repair the gas line while the bear was in residence, and there was no way to keep the home warm and habitable without repairing the gas line,” ABR said.

The next day, Sunday, Feb. 14 TWRA returned to the home to encourage the big bear to leave. The bear finally left, but what they thought was a big male bear was actually a “huge” female bear and three very young female cubs.

The officers were able to call and get supplies from ABR for the tiny cubs, which were safely removed from under the home and were kept warm in a basket with warm towels provided by the homeowners.

Sgt. Sexton watched to see if the mother bear would attempt to return, but she did not. ABR said TWRA will continue to check to see if there is any evidence of her returning to her former den.

In the meantime, the cubs were initially examined at the University Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Here’s what they know:

The cubs are female, very young (their eyes are not open yet), and they weigh just over two pounds each. They are in good overall health. Late last night, (curators) Coy and Matthew were able to get all three to consume some nutritious Fox Valley Nutrition Bear Milk Replacer. They kept the formula at half-strength for the night and switched it to full-strength this morning. Our curators will watch them around the clock and feed them every three hours.


ABR also said it is still very early in the cub season and mother bears are still in dens, so ABR alerted all the wildlife agencies to the situation and will investigate all possibilities for fostering these cubs to a mother bear and her family.

Even on very good days, we are a distant second-best to a mother bear. However, if fostering isn’t an option, we will provide the best care we can and return the three sisters back to the wild when they are big enough and strong enough to live on their own.

Please welcome, Jasmine, Jeannie, and Magic Bear.


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