Black Bear #12-0634

May 3, 2012
July 27, 2012
Rescue Location
Bedford County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Found wandering without mother
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

In early May, a homeowner saw a young Black Bear cub in a tree on his property in Bedford, Virginia. Two days later, the homeowner saw the bear again – but no sign of its mother. A DGIF biologist responded to the scene and brought the cub to the Wildlife Center of Virginia on May 3.

Admitted as patient #12-0634, the male cub was examined by the Center’s veterinary team. Dr. Miranda Sadar found that the cub was dehydrated, a little underweight, and covered in ticks. Dr. Miranda hydrated the bear with subcutaneous fluids and also prescribed a dose of anti-parasitic medication. She spent some time manually removing the ticks from the bear, but was only able to remove a small fraction before determining that it would be better to get the feisty cub settled into its enclosure for the night. The cub weighed in at 2.88 kgs – or 6.3 lbs.

The bear was placed into the Center’s isolation room – a much quieter space for a young animal with a high risk of habituating to humans. Additional blood work and tick-removal will be performed on May 4. The rehabilitation staff will provide the cub with a soft diet; at this point, the cub does not need to be bottle fed.

Patient Updates

Bedford County Black Bear cub #12-0634 was successfully released — along with five other Black Bears — on July 27 in the western part of Augusta County. Click here for release photos and a video!

Black Bear #12-0634 and family will be introduced to two next-door neighbors today: Black Bear yearling #12-1665 and Black Bear cub #12-1755. The staff will monitor both bear pen cams remotely to ensure there are no altercations. The staff are also hopeful that some of the “natural bear behavior” of Black Bear #12-0634 and friends will rub off on the human-habituated bear #12-1755.

Given the large number of Black Bears currently residing in just two of the Center’s bear pens — the release date has been moved up. DGIF Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajeckiwill come to the Center on Friday, July 27, to pick up five bears for release: #12-0189 [female yearling], #12-0990 [male yearling], #12-0634 [male cub from Bedford], #12-1663 & #12-1664 [Chesapeake cubs]. All five bears will be released together in an area VDGIF determines has the appropriate amount of resources and habitat for the two yearlings and three cubs. The area will be as far as possible from human development and in a remote area inaccessible to the public by motorized vehicles.

The weekly bear pen cleaning turned into a bit of a game today — it was a race to clean the bear pens! Rehabilitation intern Zach cleaned Bear Pen 1 while preceptorship students Steve and Dustin cleaned Bear Pen 2. Turning a particularly dirty and tiresome task into a friendly competition seemed like a good idea, and Critter Cam watchers were able to watch the race. While Steve and Dustin seemed to be pulling ahead — they were already starting to lay down fresh hay while Zach was still hosing — Zach made a very speedy job of filling the bears’ water tub and adding logs and other enrichment objects. In the end … Zach won, and went to observe the other two guys finish setting up their bear pen.

After everything was clean again, the bears didn’t waste time coming out of the den and exploring their new furniture and toys. The students made “bear popsicles” — ideal for something for the bears to play with on a hot day.

All three bears appear to be doing very well. The Center staff should know more next week in regards to a potential release date for the bears.

Bear popsicles: 


Zach wins the bear pen clean-up race!

Catching up on Critter Cam action:

All three Black Bears have been doing well over the past couple of weeks — they spend their days eating, sleeping, and playing with the various “enrichment items” that the Center staff leave for them. Most recently, the enrichment included a “watermelon party”, compliments of the Charlottesville Whole Foods. Other fun “bear games” included playing in the large water tub in the bear enclosure — whether or not there is water in it. The bears do have a permanently anchored water trough in Bear Pen 1 that is always full — which means that they are free to do whatever they’d like with the other two moveable water tubs in the enclosure.

The male yearling has been spotted on cam much more frequently lately, compared to when the three bears were first introduced. While the female yearling and the cub are very tightly bonded at this point, the male yearling has also bonded with the pair, and has been seen playing with the young cub or just lounging around with the female yearling. The Bedford cub often seems to be the instigator of play and activity in the bear enclosure.

The Wildlife Center staff will need to coordinate release specifics with the DGIF bear biologist, but at this point, the plan is still a July release for all three bears.

All is well in the Bear Pens — the three bears appear to be getting along well. While the yearling from Shenandoah County [#12-0990] isn’t spotted quite as often as the cub and the female yearling, all three did make an appearance on June 12.

Otherwise, Critter Cam viewers with good timing have been able to see a lot of bear activity!

At the recommendation of the DGIF Black Bear Project Leader as well as the former curator of the Appalachian Bear Rescue [in Tennessee], the male Black Bear yearling [#12-0990]will be introduced to Black Bear yearling #12-0189 and cub #12-0634 today. Once the enclosures are cleaned, the sliding door between Bear Pen 1 and Bear Pen 2 will be opened. The bears may have a few squabbles at first, just to determine who the boss is — but all is expected to go well based on similar introductions at other bear facilities. At this point, the female yearling and the bear cub have formed a close bond — and introducing a third party should not disturb that bond. The company of fellow bears should be quite beneficial to Black Bear #12-0990.

Cub #12-0634 appears to be doing well — eating, putting on weight, and growing up. The staff might attempt to get the cub into a crate today, to see if they can get an accurate weight — though they aren’t counting on this!

Critter Cam viewers have been treated to a fair amount of bear time this week — lots of interactions between the female yearling and cub.

4:15 pm update

Both Bear Pens were cleaned this afternoon — and the sliding door between Bear Pen 1 and Bear Pen 2 was opened. The female yearling and the cub wasted no time in exploring their enlarged area — and have spent a great deal of the past hour in their neighbor’s pen, eating food, playing with a watermelon, and already upsetting a water tub.

The Shenandoah Black Bear yearling hasn’t been seen on cam quite yet — the staff assume he is still in the den.

On May 26, Black Bear cub #12-0634 and “big sister” #12-0189 were limited to Bear Pen 2 — and they received a new next-door neighbor, Black Bear #12-0990 [housed in Bear Pen 1]. On Monday, May 28, one of the four current web cams was moved into Bear Pen 2 so that Critter Cam watchers can continue to observe the bear duo when they are out and about.

Prior to the move, the bear cub treated viewers to his play-time in an empty water tub! The tub had been full, but apparently the bears decided to do some rearranging, and the cub decided it would be a fun toy.

When the rehabilitation staff cleaned both bear pens today, they were able to confine Black Bear cub #12-0634 in a crate for a weigh-in. The cub weighed in at 5.0 kgs — a slight increase from the weigh-in last week.

While it took the cub several days to acclimate to the bear pen, and his new roommate, Black Bear yearling #12-0189, the cub made an appearance on cam on the afternoon of May 23. Cam viewers were able to see the cub digging into the food pile — and the cub did the same on May 24.

On the afternoon of May 24, cam viewers were also treated to a bear nap — both bears cuddled up together for an afternoon rest.

Rehabilitator Amber finally saw the two Black Bears together in the den of Bear Pen 2 on the morning of May 20. Otherwise, the female yearling has been spotted on cam several times in the main area of Bear Pen 1, but the Bedford County Black Bear has yet to make a cam appearance. The staff will be attempting to catch up and weigh the cub on Thursday, May 24, to ensure that he is getting his fair share. The monitoring continues.

The sliding door between the two Bear Pens was opened today — the staff have been monitoring the “meet and greet” between the yearling Black Bear and the young cub. So far, not a lot of greeting has taken place — the female yearling has been exploring the enclosures but for most of the afternoon, sat by the sliding door in Bear Pen 1. Dr. Dave went up to check on where the cub was and found him in the den of Bear Pen 2. The staff will continue to monitor via webcam over the weekend.

Black Bear cub #12-0634 was moved to Bear Pen 2 today after the two male yearling Black Bears were released. Knowing that this would probably be the last time she was able to get her hands on him, Dr. Miranda did a physical exam and drew some blood for a routine blood check. The cub weighed in at 4.83 kgs. Dr. Miranda and veterinary technician Leigh-Ann moved the cub into the Bear Pen and report that the cub looked around for a minute before darting into the den.

Since Bear Pen 2 is right beside Bear Pen 1, the cub will be able to hear, smell, and see Black Bear yearling #12-0189. Tonight, the rehab staff will open the sliding door between Bear Pen 1 and 2 just a crack — so the two bears are able to check out one another more easily. On Friday, May 18, the staff will open the sliding door between the two bears and will monitor the meet-and-greet. The DGIF bear biologist recommends a fairly quick introduction — taking advantage of the fact that Black Bear yearling #12-0189 is likely missing her “brothers” and is ready for a new companion.

The rehabilitation staff have been slowly introduced Black Bear cub #12-0634 to a wider variety of foods over the past few days; the goal is to get the bear eating something close to an “adult” diet within the next week. The latest weight of the cub was 3.53 kg.

After consulting with the DGIF bear biologist, the Wildlife Center staff have formulated a plan for the young cub. On May 17, after two male yearling Black Bears are released, the current female yearling, Black Bear #12-0189 will remain at the Center so that she may be a surrogate/big sister to the young cub. There have been several instances when the Appalachian Bear Rescue center in Tennessee successfully fostered a cub [young-of-the-year bear] onto a female yearling. According to the bear biologist, after a period of introduction, some female yearlings will readily accept young cubs and will essentially teach them “how to be bears.” Despite not being of breeding age, the maternal instincts of these female yearlings kick in after they are introduced to their young charges. The DGIF bear biologist anticipates that Black Bear #12-0189 will be ready to accept a new bear after her current “brothers” depart.

Once the two male yearlings are released on Thursday, May 17, the young cub will be moved into Bear Pen 1, and Black Blear #12-0189 will be moved into Bear Pen 2. After a few days of seeing and smelling one another, they will be introduced.

Black Bear cub #12-0634 is doing well and putting on weight. At the cub’s most recent weigh-in, the staff measured him at 3.40 kg — or just about 7.5 lbs. The tick-removal continues — by this point, due to the anti-parasitic treatment, nearly all ticks have fallen off of of the bear, though the veterinary team do continue to remove about ten a day.

The rehabilitation staff continue provide the bear with a soft, mushy diet — a bowl of thickened formula and soaked dry dog food. Over the next week, the staff will be weaning the bear off of the mushy formula and will be introducing soft veggies and fruits. The staff report that the bear is still extremely feisty, and definitely does not like humans!