Black Bear cub #13-0425

Species Name (EN): 
Species Name (LA): 
Admission Date: 
April 14, 2013
Release Date: 
January 24, 2014
Location of Rescue: 
Greene County, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Toe luxation
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On April 13, a homeowner in Greene County found a small bear cub in her backyard with her dog.  The cub was vocalizing loudly, and the homeowner was unsure if her dog had picked up the bear in the woods and brought it into the yard.  The rescuer noted an injury to the bear’s toe, but wanted to give the sow an opportunity to reclaim her cub, so she placed the cub in an open pet carrier at the edge of the woods that evening.  In the morning, the cub was still present and was transported to the Wildlife Center.

Upon admission, Black Bear cub #13-0425 was examined by Dr. Dana Tedesco, the Center’s veterinary intern.  The cub was slightly thin and very dehydrated; Dr. Dana administered subcutaneous fluids before radiographing the small male cub.  Radiographs confirmed that the second digit on the bear’s right front paw was luxated (dislocated).  Dr. Dana bandaged  the bear’s toes and settled the cub into the Center’s holding room for the night.  The bear weighed in at 1.16 kgs.

On April 15, the Center consulted with DGIF to determine the best course of action for this new bear cub, as well as Black Bear Cub #13-0389.  While the Center had considered placing cub #13-0389 at Virginia Tech’s Black Bear program with a sow and three other cubs, that is no longer an option – another orphaned cub was introduced to the Virginia Tech bear family over the course of the weekend.  The Wildlife Center will keep both cubs, together, at the Wildlife Center.  The rehabilitation staff are feeding each cub five times a day.

At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release. Your donation will help support the Center’s life-saving work with this young Black Bear … and with thousands of wild animals in need.

Photo album of 2013 Black Bear patients:




January 24, 2014

On January 24, the first of several Black Bear releases began. Five bears in transition area #2 were successfully darted and anesthetized by Wildlife Center staff and DGIF biologists. Circular ear tags were placed in both ears of each bear, and the bears were scanned for microchips. Bears #13-0425, #13-1266, #13-1044, #13-0469, and an un-scannable female were loaded into a large bear trap. The veterinary team provided the bears with a reversal medication before the doors were locked and the trap was loaded onto the DGIF truck. The bears should be totally awake by the time they reach the release site.

The six bears in transition area #1 will remain in that area of the bear complex throughout the weekend, in preparation for next week’s releases. The biologist who will be taking four of these larger bears will scope out the remote release site on Monday, to ensure he is able to access the site in the snow.

The rehabilitation team will attempt to shift two or three bears in yard #2 into transition area #2 this weekend. If successful, the bears will go in Monday’s release group, along with one or two smaller bears from transition area #1.


Comparison Photos:

April 30, 2013

All six Black Bear cubs are doing well at the Wildlife Center and are currently housed together in Bear Pen 1.  They have access to the entire den and pen area of the Bear Pen and have several logs and trees for climbing practice.   As of April 30 … the bears will be on Critter Cam!

Each of the cubs has been transitioned from bottle-feeding to bowl-feeding; this means they are now readily lapping their specialized formula out of a bowl.  Because the cubs are different weights and sizes, each formula amount is calculated for each individual bear, and the feedings are carefully monitored by the staff.  The larger cubs are offered formula twice a day [cubs #13-0469 and #13-0470]; the smallest cubs are offered formula three times a day [four cubs].  At each feeding session, two students (or staff) enter the enclosure.  Two cubs are fed at a time; the others are temporarily enclosed in large airline crates in the main area of the bear pen.  Once everyone is fed, the cubs are allowed access to the entire Bear Pen 1 enclosure again.  The staff leave a “mush bowl” for the bears each evening, to see if the cubs will eat more solid food overnight. So far, the cubs have not been interested.

Caring for nursing bear cubs long-term is a new challenge for the Wildlife Center rehabilitation team.  Fortunately, the rehabilitation staff have been getting valuable advice from several other bear experts in the field.  John Beecham of International Fund for Animal Welfare, Lisa Stewart of Black Bear Solar Institute, and Tracy Leaver of Woodlands Wildlife Refuge have all provided an overview of their black bear rehabilitation program – each facility has had remarkable success with the raising and release of the species.

Critter Cam viewers can expect to see the scheduled feedings around 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. Eastern – roughly.  The staff and students will be visible on camera as they carefully monitor the bear cubs – and viewers may even see some interaction between caregivers and cubs.  Because bear cubs are closely bonded with their sow in the wild, the young cubs are allowed a small amount of interaction with caregivers during feeding.  While the Center staff and students do not talk to or cuddle with the cubs, the cubs may climb on the caregivers for a short period of time. 

According to John Beecham, “Allowing cubs raised in captivity to socialize with other cubs may be the single most important factor in reducing the degree of their habituation. When human contact with the cubs is severely restricted after weaning, cubs will show less interest in interactions with their caretakers.” Lisa Stewart advises, “At this time of year, you will notice that the cubs still accept human interaction (they enjoy being held while taking their bottles), and there is not much risk at this point (up to 5 months of age) of causing habituation as long as the interaction with humans is short during the feeding period and the comfort received after feeding is from their own kind.” 

One good thing about caring for six bear cubs is that there is no shortage of comfort from their own kind!

Once the cubs begin to eat their nightly mush bowl, additional soft foods will be introduced.  The cubs are weighed on Wednesdays and Sundays, and the bear pen is cleaned on Saturdays.

April 24, 2013

When Black Bear cub #13-0425 was first admitted, the veterinary team prescribed a short course of pain medication for the bear's dislocated toe.  This video shows the cub as it is waking up from anesthesia and getting a dose of pain meds.  The medication does not taste very good!


April 24, 2013

All six Black Bear cubs at the Wildlife Center are doing well; they have been split into two groups of three.  Black Bears #13-0425, 13-0389, and 13-0450 are one “three-pack” – all are bottle-fed three times a day.  The rehab staff are also working on getting them to lap formula from a bowl – in hopes of reducing the number of bottle feedings again over the next week.  Bear cub #13-0425 with the injured toe is doing well – the bandage fell off several days after Dr. Dana applied it, but the toe is in good alignment and does not need further care.

Once Bear Pen 1 has been thoroughly disinfected, the cubs will be moved into that enclosure.  The cubs are currently housed together in an airline crate in Flight Pen 2.

April 16, 2013

After Black Bear cub #13-0425’s toe bandage fell off, Dr. Dana decided to suture the bandage in place on April 15.  After anesthetizing the cub, Dr. Dana carefully sutured the bandage in place – directly to the bear’s skin.  By providing a secure bandage and essentially splinting the injured toe to the toe next to it, Dr. Dana ensured that the cub’s injury is more likely to heal.  On April 17, the bandage was intact.  Additional radiographs will be taken on April 21.