Do feed the humans

Good music, food raises funds for Appalachian Bear Rescue

The sounds of Pistol Creek Catch of the Day resonated through Sister Cats restaurant in Maryville earlier this fall. While patrons were enjoying the music and food, they also heard a good message.

The band, led by Edward Harper, was on hand during the Nov. 5 show to raise money for the Appalachian Bear Rescue in Townsend.

The funds raised, about $500, went to support the feeding and care of the orphaned and/or injured bears. Lisa Stewart, curator at Appalachian Bear Rescue, praised Harper and band members Carl Gombert, Bill Cabage and Scott Hinds for their work. “We’ve been very grateful for their efforts. We know they do a lot in the community for a number of charities they select,” she said. “What they’ve done is phenomenal.”

Stewart said the bands helps them reach a part of the community they wouldn’t normally touch. “Everyone comes together for good music,” she said. “The talent comes through and brings more people out and gives us an opportunity to get the message out while people are enjoying great music. We couldn’t do our job without them.”

Appalachian Bear Rescue takes in orphaned bears from across the Eastern United States. “We are always a small organization with a very large mission,” she said. “We don’t turn away any bears; we take them all in.”

Stewart said the organization has been in Townsend since its inception in 1996. “A lot of people still don’t know we’re right in their back yard, “ she said.

Because Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regulations mandate there must be minimal contact with humans, the facility isn’t open to the general public.

The curator said currently they have 16 bears at the facility. “This has been our busiest season ever. We’ve had 23 bears so far. The most we’ve ever had since I’ve been here is 13, but this year we’ve almost doubled that,” she said. “We have 25 acres, and we have our bear enclosure in the middle of that so they are in a wild, natural setting.”

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