Black Bear #12-2655

December 21, 2012
February 21, 2013
Rescue Location
Chesterfield County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Hit by vehicle
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On the night of December 20, police officers in Chesterfield County found a yearling bear on the side of the road. It appeared as though the young bear had been hit by a vehicle. The police called the Richmond Zoo, and several Zoo personnel responded to the scene, including zoo vet Dr. Cheryl Antonucci. Dr. Antonucci sedated the bear and performed a quick physical examination before she transported the bear to the Wildlife Center. The male yearling arrived at 1:00 a.m. on the morning of December 21.

Dr. Dana, diagnostic intern Julia, and vet student Cyrus came in to the Center to admit the bear and perform an examination. The bear was still fairly sedated upon arrival, and Dr. Dana administered another small dose of a sedative to ensure that the bear was fully asleep during the physical exam. She found blood in the bear’s nose, several burst blood vessels in the bear’s eyes, and several lacerations on the bear’s limbs. Dr. Dana was able to palpate a femoral fracture of the right hindlimb; radiographs were taken to get a better picture of the fracture. After the examination, the bear was settled into a secure enclosure in the Center’s holding room for the rest of the night.

The bear was taken to surgery on the afternoon of December 21 to repair the femoral fracture, Drs. Rich and Dana performed the surgery. Post-surgery, the bear will be housed in the Center’s bear pen facility.

Black Bear #12-2655

As of 5:30 p.m., Drs. Rich and Dana were still in surgery with the bear. One pin had been placed to stabilize the fracture, and a small amount of cerclage wire was wrapped around the two ends of the fractured bone. The vets will place a second pin in the bear’s leg prior to closing. Click here for a video of the bear's surgery.

Patient Updates

Black Bear yearling #12-2655 was sedated this morning by Dr. Rich, the Center’s veterinary intern. Once fully asleep, the bear was placed on a stretcher and carried down into the hospital by Dr. Rich, Leigh-Ann, Amber, and vet student Ernesto. Dr. Rich performed a brief physical examination and took a final set of radiographs of the bear’s injured leg. After a quick review, Dr. Rich gave the bear clearance for release. A DGIF biologist was on hand; the bear was loaded into the officer’s vehicle and will be released in Augusta County later today. Dr. Cheryl Antonucci, the veterinarian who stabilized the bear in December 2012, was also on-hand to see the final examination of the bear.

In Virginia, Black Bears aren’t true hibernators – and they can remain active on some of the warmer winter days. According to Jaime Sajecki, the DGIF Black Bear biologist, “sometimes yearlings males can be up and around for much of the winter in more temperate areas”. Even though the bear will not have a pre-existing den, Jaime said “Bears den in trees, under brush piles, under rock piles, in holes, and just right on the ground. The younger bears will sometimes just scratch out a spot in a protected area out of the wind and bed down there.”  Bears have been found denning in many unique places – including on top of gravestones [against the headstone] and under a deer carcass!

Dr. Rich estimates that the Black Bear yearling weighed roughly 176 pounds. The bear was about 80 pounds on admission – so we know that the bear has bulked up well and is ready for the last month of winter in the wild.

Here are some photos of Black Bear #12-2655 — from his initial admission in December, through today’s final check-up:

Black Bear #12-2655

DGIF officials report that the bear was successfully released this afternoon in a remote area in Augusta County. The bear hopped out of the transport enclosure and quickly ran into the woods.

Black Bear #12-2655 appears to be doing well – judging by the Center’s Critter Cam, it looks like he’s definitely put on weight during this period of healing! The bear is using his injured back leg well and is scheduled for one more set of radiographs to check on the injury before he leaves. Dr. Rich is discussing potential release plans with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries – the tentative plan is to sedate the bear on Thursday, February 21 for radiographs. A DGIF biologist will plan on being on hand for the procedure – if all is well with the bear’s leg, the bear may be released that same day.

Black Bear #12-2655 was sedated on January 18 for a set of follow-up radiographs and physical examination. The team darted the bear, and once he was sedated, the bear was carried down to the hospital on a stretcher. The bear’s incision site was very nicely healed, and some of the hair on the bear’s shaved leg has started to grow back.

After reviewing the radiographs, Drs. Rich and Dana are pleased with the healing of the bear’s fractured femur. All of the hardware appears to be in place, and a nice callus is bridging the fractured bone. While the bear still needs additional time to heal, Dr. Dana thinks the bear’s femur will be well-mended in a month. Additional radiographs will be taken on February 15.

The bear was carried back to the bear pens on a stretcher; Dr. Rich guesstimates that the yearling weighs about 130-140 lbs.

Black Bear yearling #12-2655 is doing well, judging by the footage on the Center’s Critter Cam. The veterinary staff have been monitoring the yearling remotely, and the bear seems to be walking well on its hind leg. At this point, it’s just a matter of allowing the bear time to heal. Radiographs will be taken on January 18.

Black Bear #12-2655 has been continuing to recover from his December 21 surgery quite well. On December 26, Dr. Dana and team opened the door between the den and main bear pen to allow the yearling to have a little more room. Via the Critter Cam, he’s been spotted walking around the enclosure, and he is putting some weight on the back right leg. The veterinary team will continue to monitor the bear in the coming weeks.

Black Bear #12-2655 is continuing to recover well in the den of one of the Center’s bear pens. Dr. Dana reports that the yearling was brighter and more alert on December 24 and that the incision on the bear’s leg looks good. Dr. Dana estimates that the healing will take at least six weeks.

The veterinary team finished surgery and began to wake up the bear just before 7:00 p.m. on the evening of December 21. Because it was late — and dark — the team decided to place the bear in a sturdy enclosure [designed for large mammals] in the Center’s holding room for the night, rather than settling him into the bear pen.

On the morning of December 22, diagnostic intern Julia checked on the bear and found that the patient was still a little sleepy — but had turned himself around during the evening.   The veterinary team carried the bear [in his enclosure] to Bear Pen 1, where the yearling will be confined to a bear den for the next five days.