BEDFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A “grizzly” discovery in Bedford County after a large black bear was struck and killed by a car on Highway 231.
“It was massive, and we were all just in shock,” Tad Craig explained to News 2.
As a Shelbyville native and a landowner of dozens of acres, Craig is no stranger to animals but what he woke to see in front of his house early Saturday morning he never would have suspected.
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“How many times do you have a black bear in your front yard? Never. Not in Bedford County,” he reiterated.
Just yards from the city limits, a massive black bear was hit late Friday night.
“It is a busy highway and people are doing 55, 60 miles per hour so when she topped that hill, [the driver] didn’t have a chance to slow down and she said it was black. She didn’t know what she hit until the officers found it. They had no idea what they had hit. We were shocked, we were just shocked. It was a once-in-a-lifetime type thing and I hate it died, I hate the whole thing,” he explained adding that the driver wasn’t injured but totaled their car.
Even more shocking than the discovery of one of Tennessee’s treasures, he said was the bear’s size.
“I’ve hunted and fished in Alaska, I’ve been all over the smokies hiking, I’ve never seen a male bear that big and a black bear especially. The TWRA measured it, it’s 78 inches from nose to tail and 72 inches from paw to paw. Massive, massive male bear probably 450 pounds. It topped out the scales,” Craig said. “They took it to Tullahoma regional offices, the scales just go to 300 pounds, and the game warden, Larry Thurston, said it bottomed it out.”
Multiple officials on the scene couldn’t move the bear so Craig said he had to use his tractor. “It was almost impossible to lift it so I went and got my tractor and put it in the back of the game warden’s truck because it was massive. It’s so strange, it’s not normal. In my shop I’ve got moose, I’ve got elk, I’ve hunted all over the country. I’ve never wanted to hunt a bear, it’s so sad.”
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) believes the bear may be the same one spotted in Bedford County earlier this year.
“I think with all the habitat loss and all the development coming in it’s pushing wildlife all over. Everybody is moving this direction, even the bears, it’s crazy,” he said.
There is no known breeding population of bears in Middle Tennessee, according to the TWRA. Officials with the agency said bears begin hibernation in November, but the abundance of food particularly the acorn mast in the area may delay them.
According to the TWRA, the bear is now at a taxidermist preparing to be mounted. They plan to put it on display for educational purposes to promote bearwise.org.