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by Pete Thomas

An orphaned bear cub rescued last week after climbing aboard a river guide’s raft in Tennessee is snacking voraciously on berries, applesauce and grapes, which is a promising sign that the 5-week-old bruin will recover.

“Noli Bear,” who weighs only 15 pounds, is being cared for at Appalachian Bear Rescue in Townsend, after being brought ashore by High Mountain Expeditions guide Danny “Shaggy” Allen.

Dana Dodd, who owns the bear rescue facility, told GrindTv that Noli Bear was severely dehydrated and may have been suffering from heat stroke before being picked up by Allen.

Dodd described the cub as being “near death” when it arrived.

Rafting expedition leaders on the Nolichucky River–hence, the name Noli Bear–had noted in trip reports the presence of a distressed black bear cub on the same narrow beach for three consecutive days.

On the fourth day, the critter swam toward a flotilla of passing rafts, and Allen paddled close enough for the cub to try to climb aboard his guide boat. With help from Allen, the cub was soon safely aboard.

Once the rafts were hauled out at property owned by USA Raft, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was called, and the cub delivered to the rescue facility.

Allen is being described as a hero, but he and the guide outfitters face possible fines for removing wildlife.

High Mountain Guides spokesman Mark Russ, and USA Raft owner Matt Moses said they’ll gladly accept any fines, but explained that it was clear after three days that the cub and its mother had become separated.

“We weren’t going to sit there and watch that bear die,” Moses told GrindTv. “We had guests on our rafts and they wanted us to save it, but even if we didn’t have guests we felt we had to do something.”

Dodd on Tuesday said Noli Bear was just beginning to climb the apparatus in her enclosure, seeking grapes placed on a high platform. She has become so feisty that the curators have to be careful in her presence.

Both are promising signs and Dodd said that Noli, most likely, will be returned to the wild at some point later this year.
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