Rescuers rappel into cave to save dog, but find snoozing 200lb bear in the way

Bear sleeping in cave
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A firefighter got a shock earlier this week, when she rappelled down into a cave searching for a missing dog, but found a sleeping bear blocking the way.

The incident tool place in East Tennessee on Tuesday after a dog named Charlie became trapped in a narrow passageway 40ft underground. A technical rope rescue team was dispatched to the scene, and firefighter Tori Downing and Captain Jon Lanier descended into the shaft to find him.

"Things took a turn when firefighter Downing rounded a corner and found a bear sleeping five feet below her and the trapped hunting dog farther in the cave system," Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department wrote in a Facebook post.

Unable to proceed, the team set up trail cameras to monitor the area, and Charlie had to spend another night in the cave.

Thankfully, the story had a happy ending. The following day the team returned to find that the bear had moved along, allowing them to safely make their way all the way down to Charlie, hook him up to a harness, and gently help him out. The video below shows the moment he was brought safely to the surface, dishevelled but uninjured.

"All told, Charlie was trapped in the cave for three days and for some of that time, shared it (unwillingly) with an approximately two-year-old, 200 pound bear," the WCVFD wrote. "He was dehydrated and hungry, but in otherwise good condition."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.