A Tennessee black bear that’s been wandering the countryside for three weeks with a jar stuck to its head is now free and 85 pounds lighter.


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A black bear that spent three weeks roaming Cocke County with a large plastic jar stuck over its head has been released in the Cherokee National Forest 85 pounds lighter but otherwise unharmed. The male bear’s predicament was first reported June 28 when an employee of Newport Utilities spotted the bear near the Newport water plant. Wildlife officials believe the bear’s head got stuck in the large plastic jar while it was foraging in garbage. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency responded the next day but could not locate the animal. Almost one week later, on July 4, wildlife officers responded to reports that the bear was back in the same area, but again the bear disappeared.
Over the next week and a half there were sporadic reports of a black bear wandering around the foothills of the Smokies with what appeared to be a space helmet on its head. On one occasion a wildlife officer even shot at the bear with a tranquilizer gun, only to see the dart sail over the animal’s back. In the following days 50 calls poured into the Cocke County 911 Center and the TWRA office as the bear was spotted around the lower English Creek area near Cosby. On July 16, Cocke County wildlife officer Shelley Hammonds learned that the bear was still alive and had traveled over or around English Mountain to the Carson Springs area. The next day Hammonds received reports that the bear had been sighted across Interstate 40 in Newport. As Hammonds drove to the scene, the bear ran in front of her vehicle, and she was able to dart it.