Black Bear #12-1663

July 11, 2012
July 27, 2012
Rescue Location
Chesapeake, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On July 10, two Black Bear cubs were found wandering by the side of a highway in Chesapeake, Virginia. A conservation police officer with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries responded to the scene. No mother bear was spotted in the area; the cubs appeared to be small and underweight for this time of year. The DGIF officer called the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s on-call phone and arranged to bring the bears to the Center on July 11.

Dr. Rich Sim, the Center’s veterinary fellow, examined the two black bear cubs when they arrived. Since the cubs had been fed the morning of July 11, the cubs were not anesthetized. Dr. Rich performed a physical exam, a skin scraping, and drew blood for in-house laboratory tests. Dr. Rich noted that the cubs were thin, but otherwise appear healthy. Both cubs weighed in at just over three kilograms – about seven pounds.

The cubs will be spending their first night in the Center’s holding room, in a sturdy enclosure. The Wildlife Center staff are consulting with the DGIF Black Bear Project Leader to determine when the three Black Bears that are currently living in the bear pen will be released. That will help determine when the two new additions will be moved outside.

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Patient Updates

Chesapeake Black Bear cubs #12-1663 and #12-1664 were successfully released — along with four other Black Bears — on July 27 in western Augusta County. Click here for release photos and video!

The release plans are set for July 27 — DGIF officials will be at the Wildlife Center at about 9:00 a.m. to begin the bear round-up process.

Over the past few days, Critter Cam watchers have had the opportunity to see the two Chesapeake cubs interacting with the larger bears quite frequently! The five-to-be-released been spotted eating out of the same food pile as well as just hanging out together. On Wednesday, July 25, one of the two small cubs demonstrated its ability to “hold its own” — as it fended off the large female yearling from taking a tasty fish!

Both Chesapeake cubs appear to be faring well — while they still haven’t been seen on cam playing with their older and larger counterparts, they are getting along with the other bears. 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 Sajecki will 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 female yearling [#12-0189] was briefly spotted interacting with one of the two Chesapeake cubs this afternoon on cam. The five healthy bears remain together in Bear Pen 1. At some point this weekend, they will be introduced to the newest Black Bear at the Center — cub #12-1755. The newest cub is habituated to humans, so the veterinary team hopes that the five wild bears will teach it some appropriate bear behavior.

Recent photos of the Chesapeake cubs:

Because Black Bear #12-1665 moved into a bear pen yesterday for observation, the two Chesapeake cubs were moved to Bear Pen 1 with the three bigger bears [yearlings #12-0189 and #12-0990 and cub #12-0634]. Rehabilitator Amber placed a large crate in Bear Pen 1 so the Chesapeake cubs had another choice for sleeping quarters; however, Black Bear yearling #12-0189 promptly rearranged the crate within an hour.

The five bears had the run of both bear pens on Wednesday night after the Black Bear #12-1665 was enclosed in the den for the evening; the five bears were once again limited to just Bear Pen 1 on the morning of July 19. When rehabilitator Amber peeked into the den of Bear Pen 1 this morning, all bears were in the den — the three larger bears were sleeping together one one side of the den while the two young Chesapeake cubs were sleeping together on the other side.

The two Chesapeake cubs have been spotted on camera this morning — while they have not yet been seen interacting with the other bears, all seems to be well in the bear pen. Dr. Dave reports that the female yearling, Black Bear #12-0189, has been the most interested in the new additions. On July 15, when the door was first opened, all of the bears were fairly quiet at first — after a couple of hours, the female yearling made an appearance in Bear Pen 2, and peeked into the den. After a few den-checks, she entered the den — only for a minute. She walked around the bear pen for a few more minutes and entered the den again — but didn’t stay long.

The staff will continue to monitor via the Critter Cam.

The two Chesapeake cubs were introduced to the other bears at the Wildlife Center today — the door adjoining the two enclosures was opened at about 11:00 a.m. The staff have been monitoring via Critter Cam as well as in-person checks; everything appears to be going well so far.

Chesapeake bear cubs #12-1663 and #12-1664 were caught up by the Wildlife Center staff this morning for a quick set of “awake” radiographs before they were moved outside. While handling cub #12-1664 – a male – the veterinary staff noticed a wound under the bear’s chin – something that was blocked during the initial examination by the hood that was placed on the bear to keep it calm.

The team sedated the bear and carefully cleaned his matted fur to get a better look at the injury. The lacerated area was carefully cleaned and sutured by Dr. Dana, the Center’s veterinary intern. While the laceration is moderately deep, Dr. Dave thinks that the area will heal nicely. The cub will be given a dose of antibiotics once the Center orders a dose of the specialized medication – this particular antibiotic is given just once and provides 10-14 days of treatment. The Center hopes to purchase the antibiotic from a local veterinary clinic later this afternoon.

In the meantime, bear cub #12-1663 – a female – was moved into Bear Pen 2 – after the door adjoining the two pens was closed for now. Bear cub #12-1663 has a pink dot on its head, for identification purposes. The small bear appears to be healthy, though the veterinary team did find what they suspect to be enlarged lymph nodes on her abdomen. The bear’s blood work did not show any signs of infection, so the veterinary team will continue to monitor the bear.

The introduction of the two new cubs to the three larger Black Bears will likely occur on Sunday or Monday. Because the Wildlife Center will be keeping all five bears together until sometime in August, Dr. Dave installed a sprinkler system in the bear pen – in case the Waynesboro area experiences another heat wave. The sprinkler system will be deployed three times a day, just misting the bears lightly to ensure that they will stay cool. Two fans have also been installed on the ceiling of the bear enclosure.

Introducing Black Bear yearlings and cubs has been a new experience for the Wildlife Center this summer — Critter Cam watchers will remember the introduction of Bedford County Black Bear cub #12-0634 to female Black Bear yearling #12-0189 that occurred in mid-May. DGIF Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki has been on hand to consult with the Wildlife Center staff on the introductions that have been taking place this year. Jaime provided some additional insight on housing five young Black Bears together:

Question: When the two new cubs are introduced to the existing three bears, will the introduction hinder the current bond between the female yearling and Bedford County cub?

Answer: No, I don’t think so. It is hard to look at the situation without interjecting human feelings into it; animals don’t “think” about things like people do. The bond they formed is good but remember will only be temporary. They will not stay together for years and years, adults are solitary unless they have cubs or it is breeding season. Introducing the two new cubs will hopefully just provide a little more distraction from the fact that they are in captivity and not being stimulated like they would be out in the wild. The plan is to release them all together so that they have the opportunity to stay together if they choose.

Question: Will the new cubs really be ready for release in August?

Answer: Typically after July 1 we try not to intervene when we find cubs. At this point, they are about 7-8 months old; they are eating solid food and, although they are small, they have the capability, the tools, and the smarts to survive on their own. These two cubs needed our help to get them out of the situation they were in (we did not want them to get hit by a car), and immobilization drugs were used on them. When they were assessed by our vet [Dr. Kirschgessner], she determined that because of their condition they could use a little bit of help. The cubs were dehydrated and since they had to be darted out of a tree we wanted to make sure they did not have any ill effects from the chemicals or the darts, so it was decided to bring them to WCV.

It is hard for people to see the little cubs and think that they will be alright on their own but at this age they are fierce and feisty. Getting some expert medical care from the WCV, letting them put on a few pounds and have a couple weeks to recover from the drugs, and letting them interact with the other bears, is really all they should need. Remember that a wild animal is not “happy” being in captivity, even though they can adjust, they are wild and adapted to life without walls. The faster we can get these guys back into their natural environment, the better.

Both Chesapeake bear cubs are settling in at the Center. Dr. Dave, the Center’s veterinary director, spoke with Jaime, the DGIF Black Bear Project Leader, today about the bear plan — since we have a host of new bear admissions. Jaime suggested that the two newest healthy cubs be introduced to the other three Black Bears that are currently living in the bear pen — and then plan for a release of all five bears in early August. While this is holding back the two oldest Black Bear yearlings [12-0189 and 12-0990] for a few weeks, this plan will benefit the most bears, especially the youngest cubs.

The staff will move the two Chesapeake cubs into Bear Pen 1 on Friday, July 13. The door that adjoins the two bear pens will be closed for a day, so that the bears can get used to the smell of one another. On Saturday, the door will be opened and the five bears will be introduced.