Back to the story of Little Bit and her journey to freedom in the wild.  The next step in the release process was to load her into the cage on the NPS truck.  In these photos, you can see the officer from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as he lifts Little Bit and places her into the traveling cage.  Note that there is a cloth over her head, covering her eyes.  This is done to prevent the eyes from drying out while she is sedated.  You may be saying “She is too small to be released!”  But the fact is, she is not much smaller than a yearling that has been out in the wild for its 16 months of life.  The officers would not have released her if she were not judged to be ready to live on her own.  It is always better for a cub or yearling to spend as short a time as necessary in our care, and to be released as soon as possible.

Ready to go!  The truck leaves ABR for the next part of her journey.  Because she came from (and was returning to) an area of the national park that attracts many visitors, the release itself was to take place in the evening.  So the truck drove her to a building near the Park Headquarters, where she would be in a cooled area until she could complete her journey home.  Stay tuned for the last part of the story!