What Is Appalachian Bear Rescue?
The Appalachian Bear Rescue is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving orphaned and injured black bear cubs. Since being formed in 1990 the organization has cared for more than 200 bears. They work closely with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After care, medical attention and rehabilitation the rescued bear cubs are returned to the wild. As well as caring for the cubs the organization’s mission is also to educate the public about black bears.
There are many reasons for the need for a bear cub to be rescued. Abandonment, injury, dog attacks, and lack of food resulting in malnutrition and poor health. In the fall black bears are foraging for food to increase their fat reserve before hibernation during the winter months. Many times in the fall for various reasons their source of food can be limited. This causes the bears to expand their search for food. In so doing the bears come into contact with humans as the bears venture out from the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains and into more populated regions. Problems between bears and humans can lead to an increase in the number of orphaned black bear cubs for many different reasons.
Appalachian Bear Rescue Visitors Center
The non-profit organization currently has three curators on staff and many volunteers. Volunteers make up for most of the workers of the Appalachian Bear Rescue organization. The rescue facility where bear cubs are cared for is closed to the public. The rescue facility has outdoor pens (small and large), natural habitat areas, a cub nursery, storage buildings and a refrigerated food storage building. It is against Tennessee state law to exhibit the bears to the public. But the Visitors Center is open to the public and it welcomes visitors. The visitors center is an excellent place to learn about black bears, bear safety and how to co-exist with them. There are also ABR souvenirs for sale that go toward the care of the bear cubs. The visitor center is located at Trillium Cove Shopping Center on East Lamar Alexander Parkway on Highway 321 in Townsend,Tennessee.
Stories of some rescued bears and why they were rescued by Appalachian Bear Rescue
Copperfield – an underweight yearling that only weighed 16 pounds (instead of 50-60 pounds!). After spending time at ABR eating and gaining weight he was released back into the wild fat and happy!
Bobby Bear – found in a road side ditch abandoned for some unknown reason and weighing only 3 pounds. Bottle feed for a while then placed in the large natural enclosure (“Wild Side”) at ABR where human
contact is not allowed. Food is placed into the natural setting without the bears seeing a human. After several months Bobby Bear gained weight and was released back into the bear weighing
Cades Cove Bear – A severely underweight bear in Cades Cove campground with a leg injury. After surgery and healing the 2 1/2 year old bear was released back into Cades Cove.
Highway – a cub that was hit by a car and suffered a concussion. After working is way through the convalescence pen to a small pen with other cubs then onto the “Wild Side” that mimics a natural bear habitat. Highway was released back into the wild.
Ham and Sissy – after the mother bear was poached these two 4 pound cubs were heard crying nearby. After being taken to ABR the two cubs were bottle feed, then feed yogurt, nuts and fruits. Both were finally moved to the “Wild Side” where they interacted with other cubs and learned the skills they needed before being released. They were both released with Ham weighing 142 pounds and Sissy weighing 91 pounds.
There are many more stories on the many bear cubs that have been rescued by ABR. To read more stories and find out more about the non-profit organization go to Appalachian Bear Rescue. Please consider donating. The money goes toward the care of the rescued bear cubs. If you live near Townsend or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and would like to volunteer you can fill out a volunteer form on their website.
Appalachian Bear Rescue is dedicated to rescuing bear cubs and returning them back into the wild. They also want to educate the public on how to coexist with black bears. Here are a some tips the organization uses on bear safety.
Stay at least 50 yards away from a bear.
Never run away from a bear.
Never get between a mother bear and her cub or cubs.
Avoid abrupt movements if you suddenly come upon a bear. Back away very slowly.
Hike in groups and not alone.
Never feed a bear. Store food out of reach of bears.
Black bear attacks are rare but do happen. If attacked, be aggressive and fight back.
Remember that black bears are unpredictable and are wild animals.
Appalachian Bear Rescue video…