Sugarlands Distilling Company has announced the 2016 MoonShare Year of Giving Grant recipients and Appalachian Bear Rescue earned the top spot.
Appalachian Bear Rescue and 49 other charitable organizations competed for the most public votes over a month-long period. While the Townsend, Tenn. based bear rescue came in first place, each of the top twelve organizations will receive a $5,000 MoonShare Grant from Sugarlands Distilling Company to help further their charitable missions. In addition to the monetary award, each organization will be assigned a “Month to Shine” where their efforts will be highlighted on Sugarlands Distilling Company’s website and social media platforms.
“It’s an honor to have so many great organizations apply for the program, and I am thrilled by the outpouring of public support they each received,” said Courtney DeLaura, director of the MoonShare program. “Our company likes to pay homage to the people who inhabited these mountains long before us. Giving back and lending a helping hand was important to them then, and it is important to us today.”
Other east Tennessee organizations to place in the top twelve were East Tennessee PBS and the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.
View the full list of recipients here.
Appalachian Bear Rescue is a rehabilitation facility that cares for injured and orphaned black bear cubs until they are ready to return to the wild. The organization needs the MoonShare Grant more than ever this year, having an increased number of black bear cubs in residence.
“This has been the worst year for black bears in our area since The Famine of 2011-2012,” Appalachian Bear Rescue said on its Facebook page.
During this 2015-2016 season, the rescue has taken in 47 bears, nearing its record of 53 bears aided in 2011-2012. Currently, there are 24 cubs at the facility. Many of the cubs were extremely small on arrival, weighing 10-20 pounds when a healthy yearling should weigh in the 50-100 pound range.
“Our area experienced a failure of the natural food supply last autumn. The hard mast (acorns, nuts etc.) was nearly non-existent at the time when black bears must put on enough weight to survive winter and hibernation,” the rescue explained. “The lack of food forced bear families to roam, searching for whatever they could find. This led to an increase in traffic mortality; several of our cubs were orphaned by car accidents. Bears took more risks to get food and this led to bear/human conflict over unsecured trash or cabin/car break-ins; some of these bears were euthanized. There were poaching incidents that left a couple of our cubs orphaned, and as fall turned to winter, some mother bears were forced to abandon their cubs in order to save themselves. We believe this is what happened to many of our recent arrivals. Had this been a normal food year, we wouldn’t rescue healthy yearlings; they would be viable in the wild even without their mother.”
Appalachian Bear Rescue is celebrating their 20th Anniversary this year.
If you are still looking for that perfect gift for your Valentine, Appalachian Bear Rescue is hosting a “Cupid Cub” Open House with refreshments at its visitor center from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2016. The public is invited to “adopt” one of more than 20 Appalachian Bear Rescue cubs. For their sponsorship, they will receive a Certificate of Adoption, stuffed cub and an 8″×10″ photo of the cub. The visitor center is located at 121 Painted Trillium Way in Townsend, Tenn.
Photo Credit: Beaufort Bear by Appalachian Bear Rescue