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Wildlife refuge takes care of black bear

December 29, 2017
By AARON CERBONE - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

WILMINGTON - The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge is caring for a yearling black bear it received from North Country Wild Care.

Cowee, named so because she was found in the 23,000-acre Cowee Forest along the borders where New York, Vermont and Massachusetts meet, was found by hunters after not moving for 24 hours.

Refuge owner Wendy Hall said it is unclear what caused Cowee to remain motionless for so long but that she is healthy and active now. Other bears she has cared for arrive severely underweight, with mange or having lost blood, but Cowee has not shown these symptoms since arriving.

Yearling bears should be with their mothers, meaning Cowee's may have been killed or left when she met a male bear.

She also should have been hibernating in a den at this point in the year, but according to Hall, the unseasonably warm weather may have kept her from settling down.

Initially it was believed she could have been poisoned. Bears eat things they shouldn't, a result of them being fed by hikers or hunters.

"A fed bear is a dead bear," Hall said.

Hall said they remember where they receive food, and with one of the strongest sense of smells in any mammal, they can track their way back to a feeding spot easily.

Though there are 5,000 in High Peaks region alone, black bears are not a common sight. They are wary of humans, using their noses, which have a range measured in miles, to keep their distance.

"If you look at the history of black bears in North America, they are kind of the only ones that successfully stayed around during European expansion," the refuge's bear expert Chris Mattern said. "The wolves were all killed, the mountain lions were all killed, grizzlies. It's because they're out in the open, they're not as skiddish."



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