A river rafting business risked thousands of dollars in fines to help bring a baby bear to safety last week, refusing to ignore her plea for help as she climbed aboard one of their rafts.
The guide in the boat at the time was Danny Allen, aka “Shaggy,” one of USA Raft’s most experienced and worldly guides. He helped the bear onto the boat using a gear rig, then put her on a leash and lead her back to the company’s offices.
“I was pretty shocked,” said Matthew Moses, general manager of USA Raft, told Good News Network. “I haven’t even heard of anything like this in the 26 years I’ve been a river guide, and based on all the attention this is getting worldwide, apparently nobody else has seen anything like it, either.”
The bear cub’s arrival didn’t come as a complete surprise, though. For three days, a number of USA RAft’s river guides noticed the bear in distress along their nine-mile route from Tennessee to North Carolina. She was clearly becoming hungrier by the day, her mother nowhere in sight.
“We couldn’t bring the bear on a raft with guests in it, that was the first issue,” Moses told us. “But the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission both say that if you see an animal in distress, you leave it alone. You can face hefty fines if you don’t.”
But when the bear swam out to Shaggy’s boat several days ago, he wasn’t going to turn the cub away.
Noli Bear, nicknamed because she was rescued by raft guides on the Nolichucky River in Tennessee, is currently with the Appalachian Bear Rescue, a primarily volunteer organization, being nursed back to health.
Right now, she’s living with five other bear cubs in the “Cub House” and eats more than all of the other bear cubs combined.
“They told us she’s the least finicky eater they’ve ever seen,” Moses said.
He added that he hopes the result is a happy life for Noli and increased awareness for the illegal poaching of bears, a problem that may have been responsible for Noli’s missing mother. The cub will ideally be released back into the wild when she’s grown.
And as for the potential fines—Moses is ready for them.
“If we get fines, we’ll pay fines all day long,” he said. “But we’re not gonna watch a bear die by the side of the river.”
WATCH the video below… To follow Noli’s progress, visit the Appalachian Bear Rescue Facebook. Photos: Dallas Abadie and Appalachian Bear Rescue
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