Black Bear #13-0471

April 17, 2013
April 23, 2014
Rescue Location
Fauquier County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Found wandering alone
Former Patient
Patient photo

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On the morning of April 17, Animal Control officers in Fauquier County saw a young bear cub wandering near the side of the road. The officers decided to leave the cub alone, suspecting that the mother bear was nearby. By late afternoon, the cub was still by himself. Because a Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officer was planning on bringing two other Black Bear cubs to the Center, the Fauquier County cub was rescued and sent along with the other cubs.

Dr. Rich Sim, the Center’s veterinary fellow, examined the cub when it arrived. The cub appeared to be in good condition. A thorough physical exam was completed the following day, with no significant findings. The male cub weighed in at 2.02 kgs.

Bear cub #13-0471 will be housed in a large dog crate with Bear cubs #13-0469 and 0470 and will be bottle fed several times a day.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this Black Bear cub … and to the 2,500 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year. Please help!

Patient Updates

On the morning of April 23, the veterinary team headed up to the Bear Complex to dart three yearlings in yard #2. Dr. Rich went into one tower in the complex, and Dr. Kristin went into the other tower – both were looking for clear shots of the bears. Dr. Rich was able to successfully dart the male yearling, bear #13-0471, from the tower. Both females became more skittish after the first dart.

Drs. Rich, Kristin, and Dave, along with technician Leigh-Ann and veterinary student Mary Ashley, went into the yard to dart the two female yearlings, and to monitor the male yearling. After the bears did a little bit of tree climbing, the two females were successfully darted.

All three bears received a quick physical examination and then were weighed and tagged prior to loading into the DGIF culvert trap. All bears were in great body condition. #13-0471 weighed in at a hefty 69.4 kg, #13-0875 weighed 38.7 kg, and #13-0874 weighed 46.7 kg.

Black Bear Release: April 23, 2014

On the evening of April 23, DGIF biologist Katie reported that the bear release went really well. All three bears quickly ran away when released out of the DGIF culvert trap. One bear climbed a tree, and another sprinted out of sight.

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.

All six Black Bear cubs at the Wildlife Center are doing well; they have been split into two groups of three. Black Bears #13-0469, #13-0470, and #13-0471 are one “three-pack” – the two natural brothers that came from Greene County are bottle-fed twice a day and are also beginning to eat a mush bowl. Cub #13-0471 from Fauquier County is eating three times a day.

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.