It was Valentine’s Day, and a group of hikers noticed a very sick bear cub lying in a ditch near Black Mountain in Harlan County, Kentucky. When a Kentucky Transport Department vehicle came by, they quickly alerted the driver to the bear’s predicament. He then notified the Appalachian Bear Rescue. It was obvious the bear was in a very bad way, with no fur on its face or paws, severely dehydrated, and covered in ticks, so the driver stayed with the bear to comfort it until rescuers arrived.
The tiny bear, who was given the name Hartley, weighing just 12 pounds (approx. 5 kg), was taken to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, where his health was assessed. He was suffering from severe malnutrition and had several big abscesses on his frail body. At just 1 year old, he should have still been in a den with his mother. It is not known how he came to be sick and alone in a ditch.
Hartley was then placed in the Appalachian Bear nursery, where rescuers could care for him and monitor his progress.
“This bear has been starving to death, so you can’t flood his system with too much nutrition or it’ll overwhelm all of his body functions. It could kill the bear,” said CEO of Appalachian Bear Dana Dodd, according to KnoxNews. “So, he’s eating much less, and the formula’s half-strength.
“We started with 2 ounces six times a day, so 12 ounces, and now we upped it to three ounces every four hours, so he’s up to 18 ounces out of the 38 ounces we’re trying to get him to, and I think tomorrow they’ll add to it again.”
Hartley has improved in other ways, though.
“He has bluff charged and huffed at our curator when he got too close when he was looking into the pen. Hartley was not too happy with him, so that’s a good sign that he feels like doing that,” Dodd adds.
Online support for the little guy has been great, with donations of thousands of dollars helping cover expenses of Hartley and other bears needing rescue. The costs of their rehabilitation are high.
“It’s very startling and sad when you see pictures of Hartley,” said Dodd. “He looks pitiful, and he came to us in horrible condition. That would have to tug on anybody’s heartstrings.
“If you like animals at all, you’re pulling for the little guy.”
Hartley Bear had a good first night in The Red Roof Recovery Center. It didn’t take him long to become accustomed to his…