Infamous Townsend bear captured, to be relocated in forest
By Wes Wade | (email@example.com)
Townsend officials have captured a bear they believe is the same animal responsible for appearing at a Townsend residence as many as three times a day within the last two months.
Townsend Police Chief Ron Suttles confirmed the animal was captured around 4 p.m. Friday outside the aforementioned residence and will be relocated to the Cherokee National Forest area some time today. Suttles said the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will take responsibility for the transportation.
In the meantime, they’re taking good care of the fellow, he said.
“We’re keeping him cooled down,” Suttles said. “He’s doing real good. He’s about a 2-year-old bear, about 175, 180 pounds ... (a) good physical shape bear.”
Suttles explained that the bears they’ve captured in the area recently — about four within the last two months — are just hungry and looking for food. None of the animals have been aggressive, he explained.
“Just a lot of bears,” he said. “A lot of hungry bears. They’re mainly hunting for something to eat, that’s it. We ain’t had no real aggressive bears. None of the bears I’ve moved have been aggressive or nothing. They’re just hungry, coming in close trying to find something to eat is what they’re doing.”
Too close for comfort
But that coming in close has given people like 12-year Townsend resident Kerry Shibley a fright.
She explained she wasn’t afraid of the animal until it started approaching dangerously close to her or anyone visiting her home.
“The bear came out of the woods just as pretty as you please,” Shibley said concerning an encounter on Aug. 18, the same day the animal broke a vase on the windowsill and left bloody paw prints on a window near the kitchen. “If this bear wants to, he can come right through these doors and windows.”
One of Shibley’s neighbors who phoned police about the incident, in fact, believed the bear had done just that when they heard the vase break and saw the bear outside the residence.
When Townsend Police arrived the bear was gone. That’s when they set the trap which captured the animal Friday.
No food for bears
Appalachian Bear Rescue Curator Lisa Stewart explained that this year’s natural food shortage has affected the way the bears operate. It’s a stark contrast to last year’s plentiful harvest, which ahs led to more cubs and less food, she said.
“The bears are struggling now because the soft mast (berries, grapes) did not produce in quantity and the hard mast (acorns, hickory nuts) production for the fall looks bleak,” Stewart explained in an email to the Daily Times. “Last year, the natural food supply was in abundance, so sows went to winter dens and had large litters of cubs. This year, the natural foods are in short supply and the bears are on the move in a desperate search for food.”
Stewart advised both residents and visitors alike to properly dispose of garbage in the Park area. Residents should also be mindful about leaving food out for birds or even pets — food that bears can smell and will seek out for miles.
“This is the time of year where bears are showing up where they’re not supposed to be and things can get misconstrued,” Stewart said in an interview with the Daily Times on Saturday. “We want our residents and visitors to be safe while in “Bear Country”, but we also want our bears to be safe.”
And with any luck, both Stewart and Suttles agreed, Townsend’s latest expatriate will have much more food available in its new Cherokee Forest habitat.