Little Bit’s Release – Part 2 – The Workup

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The workup process is somewhat involved, because the wildlife officers (in this case, NPS officers from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park) want to be absolutely sure that the bear (in this case, Little Bit) is healthy and ready for life in the wild.  Several steps are followed, some of which are shown in the photos below.  First, let’s inspect the paws.  A bear’s paws are remarkable.  They have 5 toes on front and back paws, just as we have 5 digits on our hands and feet.  In fact, the front paws of a bear resemble our hands, and the back paws, shown in this photo, look very much like our feet.  This enables bears to walk upright, on their hind legs, which gives them a startlingly human appearance. 

The application of eartags is an important part of the process.  Eartags are numbered, as you will see from the closeup, and allow the bear to be identified in case identification is ever necessary.  The eartag does NOT mean that the bear has been in trouble with humans.  Little Bit’s injury was from another animal.

Here is a closeup of the eartag. 

Several measurements are taken and recorded.  Here, the officer measures her head and takes her head-to-tail measurement.  Other body parts are measured, as well.  Her temperature is taken to confirm her state of health.  All of the data is kept for future reference.