Mother bear dies after falling out of tree in Cades Cove, leaves 3 cubs

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Appalachian Bear Rescue is caring for three bear cubs whose mother died in a freak accident in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — falling out of a tree.

On April 7, Park Rangers responded to a report of a dead female bear with three cubs along Forge Creek Road in Cades Cove, said Dana Soehn of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“Our wildlife biologists immediately responded to the site and were able to capture all three cubs and transport them to the Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR).  At the time of the discovery, biologists were unable to determine why the bear died,” she said 

This is believed to be the female bear that died in early April in Cades Cove from trauma injuries and left three cubs. Park Service biologists believe the bear fell out of a tree, a rare accident for bears. (Coby Cooper / WATE)   

Park officials recently received the necropsy report of the bear which determined the cause of death to be trauma.  Biologists believe, Soehn said in an email, the trauma was most likely the result of the bear falling from a tree.  

“While rare, biologists have documented similar incidents in the past,” she said. “Due to the investigation into the cause of death of the bear, details regarding the incident and the cubs were not released immediately on ABR’s Facebook page when the cubs entered the facility.

Two of the three bear cubs that were rescued from Cade Cove by rangers with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on April 7, 2019, and taken to Appalachian Bear Rescue in Townsend. (Photo courtesy of Appalachian Bear Rescue)

“We are grateful to have this incredible facility in our backyard that provides high-quality care for orphan cubs in a manner that enables us to release them back into the wild.”

Appalachian Bear Rescue in Townsend cares for orphaned and injured black bear cubs for return to their natural wild habitat; increases public awareness about coexisting with black bears; and studies all aspects of returning cubs to the wild.

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