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'The winner is... Appalachian Bear Rescue!' | East TN bear rescue group wins national award and grand prize

Appalachian Bear rescue took home the top prize in the animal welfare category of the Land Rover Defender Service Awards.

TOWNSEND, Tenn. — Appalachian Bear Rescue got some national recognition recently after winning an award for its work to care for orphaned and injured black bear cubs.

The organization won in the animal welfare category of the 2022 Land Rover Defender Awards. The awards are meant to recognize organizations for their work in animal welfare, veterans outreach, environmental and conservation, community services as well as search and rescue.

There were 25 organizations across the five categories, from both the U.S. and Canada. After the finalists were announced, people could vote for their favorites through Nov. 6.

Appalachian Bear Rescue will get $25,000 for winning the award, as well as a custom Defender 130 — a newly designed Land Rover car. Organizers of the awards said it may be used to easily transport animals, gear or volunteers. 

Land Rover Defender Service Awards - Update! We won! Appalachian Bear Rescue won the Animal Welfare category in the 2022 Land Rover Defender Awards. Thanks to YOU we will receive $25,000 and a brand new Land Rover Defender. This will allow us to continue giving the best care possible to cubs in need. We want to thank all of you for your dedication and for voting for our cubs every day -- YOU made this possible. We also want to thank Land Rover, KONG and Chase for this opportunity and all other category winners and finalists for the incredible work they do!

Posted by Appalachian Bear Rescue on Saturday, November 12, 2022

"I've rushed out to go pick up a bear, meet a wildlife officer, and get a bear to the vet school or what have you, and then realize there's an issue with our SUV," said Coy Blair, ABR's operations director. "Every second counts with the bears that we take in here at Appalachian Bear Rescue, and it's just going to be so wonderful to know that when the call comes in, we can get straight to a bear."

As semifinalists, they also won $5,000. ABR will be able to pick up the vehicle during a presentation ceremony at The Biltmore Estate in February 2023.

"On behalf of our fifteen big little bears, who care nothing about contests, vehicles, or money,  we thank you, dear friends, for voting so faithfully," they said on social media. "We’re proud to have you as partners in our mission. Because of you, we’re always winners."

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