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Internet-famous black bear cub finds care at Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

The cub at the center of the viral video joined another orphaned bear cub at the local nonprofit to be rehabilitated before release.

Close up of black bear cub's face

There are currently two bear cubs in the refuge’s care.

Photo via Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge is now the temporary home of an unintentionally famous bear cub. ICYMI, a video went viral in mid-April, showing a group of people at an Asheville apartment complex taking two black bear cubs out of a tree for photos. For the past couple of weeks, one of the cubs has been at the local nonprofit to receive care.

After a little time to adjust, the cub was introduced to another orphaned cub already at the refuge, and both are thriving, eating well, and enjoying enrichment. Bear cubs are cared for in a natural, isolated habitat by a small staff, rather than volunteers, so that the environment can be kept as wild as possible.

“Our team has no reason to believe that they won’t make full rehabilitation care to be released as wild bears in the fall,” said Executive Director Savannah Trantham in a press release.

This time of year, it’s quite possible that you’ll see mothers and cubs or even cubs by themselves — which isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. Mama bears often leave their babies in a safe space while they forage, then return. If you’re unsure, you can call the refuge’s wildlife hotline at 828-633-6364, ext. 1.

Black bears aren’t typically aggressive, but you still need to keep safety in mind (both for you and for the bears). BearWise, a network of wildlife officials + researchers from around the Southeast working to help humans and bears live together more harmoniously, suggests six basic rules to follow around your home:

  • Never approach or feed bears.
  • Never leave pet food out.
  • Secure bird feeders when bears are out + active.
  • Secure food, garbage + recycling.
  • Clean and store your grill after you use it.
  • Alert your neighbors when you see a bear in your neighborhood.

When you find yourself in the great outdoors, there are rules to follow there too:

  • Stay alert and stay with your group.
  • Don’t leave any trash or food scraps behind.
  • Keep your dog on a leash.
  • Set up your campsite away from densely covered areas or natural food sources.
  • Don’t store items that might attract a bear (food, toiletries, etc.) in your tent.
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it.
  • Learn what to do if you encounter a bear.

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge emphasizes that even though this video centered on black bears, the team sees the effect of harmful treatment of many wildlife species. Whether a turtle, snack, bird, or fawn — human interaction is harmful. The organization is working to promote “a healthier, more compassionate co-existence with wildlife.” It often boils down to treating wildlife with respect.
The facility isn’t open to the public, but you can keep up with the status of all of the nonprofit’s animal patients on social media. Then learn how to support the work.

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