Black Bear #12-1665

July 11, 2012
July 27, 2012
Rescue Location
Roanoke County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Hit by vehicle
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On July 7, a Black Bear cub was hit by a vehicle in Roanoke County, Virginia. An animal control officer responded to the scene and transported the bear to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator in Roanoke. The bear was admitted to the Wildlife Center on July 11.

Dr. Rich Sim, the Center’s veterinary fellow, and Dr. Dave McRuer, the veterinary director, examined the male cub upon admission. Weighing in at 10.0 kgs – 22 lbs – the bear was not behaving normally, and showed signs of head trauma. Dr. Rich noted that the bear’s right eye was severely injured, which likely means that it is blind in that eye.

The veterinary team did not feel that the bear is stable enough for anesthesia and radiographs, so the examination was limited to a basic physical, skin scraping, and blood work. Dr. Rich started the bear on a course of anti-inflammatories. The bear will be housed in the Center’s holding room, in a sturdy enclosure, where the veterinary team can continue to closely monitor the bear. Radiographs will be taken during the week of July 16 if the bear’s condition has stabilized.

Patient Updates

The staff have been able to see marked improvement with Roanoke Black Bear cub this week — so much so that a few times, the staff confused #12-1665 with the healthy Bedford County cub. Sometimes, when all is quiet in the den, the Roanoke cub was still showing small neurological signs — a slight head tic. However, when a human walks to the bear pen — the cub has no problem running directly into the den.

With this dramatic improvement, the Wildlife Center vets and the DGIF bear biologist Jaime felt that it was best to release this cub with the other five bears on July 27. This will allow the bear the optimum time to forage and get used to its new surroundings — while in the protection and comfort of other bears. The cub was successfully released in the western part of Augusta County.

The veterinary staff checked on Black Bear cub #12-1665 several times over the course of the weekend. Diagnostic intern Julia Jones reports that she did not see the bear pacing or circling this weekend. Since the yearling has been living in the den of Bear Pen 2 for the past few days, the staff can’t be entirely sure of its neurological status when humans aren’t around — but they do feel that it is making some small improvements.

The staff will open up the den door this morning, and will allow the bear access to a larger space. This will allow the staff to monitor via Critter Cam — and it will also allow the staff to assess how the Montogomery County bear [cub #12-1755] will react to a fellow bear.

The Roanoke Black Bear cub remains in the den of Bear Pen 2 — the veterinary team shuffled the bear back in that area last night to keep it confined. One concern that the veterinary staff have is that if the bear continues to pace in a large area, it will burn off all of the calories that are being taken in during a day. Since the den is a smaller area — though still larger than any indoor housing option in the Center’s hospital — this seems like a good short-term solution.

Dr. Dave checked on the bear this morning — the bear was moving around the den, though was not rapidly pacing as it was in the pen. The bear is eating and drinking.

After the five Black Bears were enclosed in Bear Pen 1 again this morning, Black Bear #12-1665 was let out of the den into Bear Pen 2 for continued observation by the veterinary staff today. The bear has been seen pacing in the enclosure again this morning.

After much consideration, the veterinary staff decided that they needed to move Black Bear #12-1665 outside today. This meant that the five bears currently housed in the Center’s bear pen had to be shifted to accommodate — while it’s not ideal to have five young bears in one bear enclosure, the team didn’t want to introduce the injured bear into the mix just yet. It was also becoming increasingly dangerous for the staff to house the #12-1665 bear indoors.

The Roanoke bear was placed in Bear Pen 2 — where he proceeded to pace the length of the pen all afternoon. The bear was not circling, though continued to pace. He stopped and drank water several times.

Dr. Dave consulted with Jaime, the DGIF Black Bear Project Leader, and they decided that the young Roanoke bear should be contained in a smaller area for the evening. Dr. Dave suspects that the pacing may be related to the bear’s head trauma. Bear #12-1665 was enclosed in its den for the night, and the door connecting the two bear pens was opened so that the five bears could once again have enough room to explore.

The veterinary team reports that Black Bear #12-1665 is looking brighter and is definitely increasingly more difficult to handle. The team is actually having a hard time assessing the bear in its current enclosure — at this point, it’s difficult to tell if the bear is still circling due to head trauma, or if its movements are due to feeling better and wanting more room!

The Center staff just introduced two new Black Bear cubs to the three larger Black Bears [two yearlings and a cub], and those five bears are still getting to know one another in the bear pen. The initial introduction went well, though the staff have not seen all five bears hanging out with one another and interacting. Once this is confirmed on camera — which may take a couple of days — the five Black Bears will be enclosed in one bear pen, so that Black Bear #12-1665 can be moved to the adjoining bear pen for a short observation period. If bear #12-1665 has improved and is no longer circling, the door between the two pens will be opened, and all six bears will be allowed to mingle. If the bear is still showing signs of head trauma, the veterinary team will reassess the treatment and housing plans.

The Black Bear cub from Roanoke continues to show signs of head trauma. While the bear has been a little brighter over the past two days, he is not very responsive at times and also circles to the right. Bear #12-1665 is eating well.