Mother bears tend to search for food when it is scarce. Mother place cubs in areas that they believe are safe while she is searching for food. A cub may be alone for hours until the mother returns.
TWRA says this is similar to a human leaving a child with a babysitter, however, the “sitter” could be a tree near a person’s home.
If a cub is actually an orphan, TWRA will take the animal to the Appalachian Bear Rescue for rehabilitation. Only TWRA and National Park Service are allowed to catch and deliver a bear to the organization.
TWRA should only be contacted about a suspected orphaned bear cub if the animal has been alone for more than 36 hours or if the mother is confirmed dead.
ABR says if you spot a bear cub, do not go near it. Also, do not take pictures of it by standing under a tree. This can make the mother feel threatened and not return.
“The worst thing you can do is to take a cub that is not truly orphaned from its mother,” says ABR President Dana Dodd. “The best case scenario is for a cub is to remain with its mother because she can do a far better job at raising it than ABR can