East Tenn. nonprofit dedicated to bear cubs needs donations


TOWNSEND (WATE) – An East Tennessee nonprofit dedicated to helping the bear population needs your support.

The Appalachian Bear Rescue received several thousand dollars Friday night from Eagle Springs Winery, but they say their survival depends on donations.

The winery makes different wines quarterly dedicated to the rescue, giving a portion of the proceeds to them.

Cades Cove Cellars also give one dollar of every blackberry wine sold to Appalachian bear Rescue.

However, as we are head into spring, the rescue expects to be getting busier.

“The mass last year, the food supply, the nuts were extremely heavy so when that happens the mother bears bulk up and then they produce anywhere between two and three cubs a year,” said Executive Director Kathy Wilbanks.

More cubs in the wild likely means more work for them.

They rehabilitate bear cubs in need eventually releasing them back into the forests. To date, they have assisted more than 200 cubs.

“What happens often, and nature’s not as nice as we would like to think that it is, sometimes they lose their mothers and when that happens they’re either orphaned, injured, need medical attention, and all of that costs money,” said Wilbanks.

As a nonprofit organization, Appalachian Bear Rescue relies heavily on donations.

They say it is donations like the $5,000 presented Friday night from Eagle Springs Winery that help them operate and helped them open a new visitors’ center and education center in Townsend recently.

“All 501C3s struggle for money. We’re always searching how we can be the best that we can be, and it takes money to be that,” said Wilbanks.

Nearly 100 people showed up Friday night for the check presentation ceremony. That show of support is a good sign to them.

“Townsend is really changing. Everybody is banding together to support this nonprofit. That’s just one example,” said Mark Oldham, owner of the Dancing Bear Lodge nearby.

Appalachian Bear Rescue is hoping as the warmer months approach the help will continue to get the cubs the care they need.

“Bear cubs take a lot of food. When they’re little tiny babies they’re like little tiny human babies. They eat a lot,” said Wilbanks.

If you want to help out, you can find out more on their website or by visiting them on Facebook.

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