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Bear rehab welcomes end of hibernation

Dawn Brown has been rehabilitating bears since 1997.

NEW SHARON, Maine — Spring's arrival means black bears across Maine are starting to wake up from their hibernation.

Five adolescent, or "yearling," bears in New Sharon were out and about Friday after their very first winter nap. Meanwhile, two infant cubs stayed warm in a blanket in a crate inside Dawn Brown's home. She calls her rehab business "a bear's second chance," and she said her licensed facility has taken in orphaned cubs since 1997. 

Brown said it's important to keep them as wild as possible until they're healthy enough to be released but said she does name each bear and believes they're just as unique as humans.

"I know how they behave," she smiled. "Just like people, they all have their own--with them, it would be animality, but [with] people, it's personalities."

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife spokesperson Mark Latti wrote to NEWS CENTER Maine about licensed rehabs.

"The department works with a number of licensed wildlife rehabilitators. They provide an important service to the state and dedicated care to orphaned or injured wildlife," Latti wrote. "Licensed rehabilitators care for the animal in a time of need, so that it may be released into the wild within six months from when it was received."

Latti went on to write that the goal of all state rehabilitators is to care for the animal so that they can be released and survive in the wild.

Brown has also become a gifted photographer and has built a side business selling prints and calendars featuring the bears. She said the photo sales help bolster the rehab facility.

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