Answering release concerns

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We have had a number of questions about the recent releases and the sizes and conditions of the yearlings who were released.

First of all, remember that the mission of ABR is to rehabilitate orphaned/injured bear cubs and release them back into the wild as soon as possible.  ABR operates under the guidelines of TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The officers determine which bears are ready for release at any given time.  They will never release a bear that weighs less than 50 pounds, and some of our bears weigh quite a lot more than the minimum.

We have been asked about the release of bears that had not had a long period of R&R at the facility.  Actually, that is a good thing – the less time at ABR, the less chance for a bear to lose its wildness.  The bears that were released, and indeed, the 26 bears that are still at the facility, are 14 months old.  If they had not been orphaned, they would be dispersed by their mothers very soon.

To the benefit of these released yearling  we are experiencing an early spring.  This means that they will be able to find natural food in their new home area.  They will be eating new grasses, tender shoots on trees, insects, and the occasional frog or salamander.  Not quite like yogurt and applesauce, but these are natural spring foods for bears, young and old.

Another source of concern has been the loss of fur and scruffy appearance of some of the bears.

This is what Lisa, our curator had to say: “Regarding the new arrivals that are losing “gaps” of fur, especially around their eyes and their torsos, they are exhibiting the results of malnutrition.  It is quickly reversed once the body accepts good nutrition and processes it.  Challenger lost most of the fur on his face…now, he looks great and healthy.  Tiny is just now losing the fur on his face, especially around his eyes…Benji also looked terrible in some pictures last year, but he recovered quickly.  Amethyst and Thunder “reversed” quickly and skipped the phase of fur loss.”  Each bear’s body reacts differently to the stresses caused by their difficult first year.  Some of the fur loss has been caused by the bears spending several weeks huddled together in very warm dens.  When these bears are out in the fresh air and sunshine, their fur will grow back.  Look at this very recent photo of bears in the Wild Side.  You can certainly see the effects of being crowded in a stuffy, hot den!  This bear is not only missing fur, it is pretty muddy, as well.

Might be called a bear’s “bad hair day!”

Appalachian Bear Rescue