Dying bears, cubs from around the country sent to East Tennessee for care
Malnourished and motherless is how Balthazar, a one-year-old black bear, was introduced to the Appalachian Bear Rescue in Blount County.
"We don't know what happened to his mother, but he was certainly separated from her, so he was trying to fend for himself, but he wasn't doing a great job," Ashley Chance, with
Before he was nicknamed King B, Chance said he was found digging in dumpsters in Louisiana, only 17 pounds, which is less than half of what he's supposed to weigh.
He's one of three others Chance is caring for this winter. Two others also come from Louisiana, while another is from North Carolina.
"They're completely hopeless, they need to be bottle fed," Chance said.
Half of the rescues are well, while the others will need more time to heal.
Black bears continue to come to East Tennessee from all over the country to escape near death experiences. The center takes in injured, orphaned or sick black bears. It has the resources, a secluded location and mountains, making them one of the only centers of its kind in North America.
"A lot of times managers working and officers have to make tough decisions when they find a cub that's been orphaned or a young bear that's injured, because a lot of times they don't have the means or facilities to be able to help on an individual level," Chance said.
The center runs off of community and visitor donations. One money maker is the center's gift shop that sits along Painted Trillium Way in Townsend.
The nonprofit facility has cared for 299 young bears in 24 years.