Black Bear #14-0221

April 3, 2014
Rescue Location
Albemarle County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Emaciated, fractured tooth
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

Residents in Albemarle County noticed a small Black Bear hanging around the area for a couple of weeks in late March. On April 3, landowners noticed the bear lying in a ditch. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries responded to the call and a biologist was able to capture the bear. While landowners reported that the bear looked like it was dragging its hind end, the bear appeared to be able to weakly walk prior to capture.

Dr. Rich Sim, the Center’s veterinary fellow, examined the bear when it arrived. The female bear appears to be a yearling, although she is larger in size than the other bears admitted in 2014. Dr. Rich did not find any fractures or other orthopedic injuries, although the bear was very thin and blood work confirmed that she was emaciated. She also had some crusty patches of skin. Dr. Rich also found a fractured, discolored canine tooth when he examined the bear’s mouth. If the bear is able to be stabilized and recovers from her emaciation, the tooth will likely need to be removed. The bear weighed 10.8 kg.

The bear was given fluids and antibiotics and was placed in the Center’s holding room for the night. The veterinary staff will offer a highly digestible food several times a day.

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Patient Updates

On the afternoon of May 19, Black Bear yearling #14-0221 was darted and anesthetized for a final examination and release. Dr. Rich checked the tooth extraction site and was pleased to see that everything was completely healed. The bear was in great body condition, and weighed 37 kg – a drastic difference from her 10.8 kg admission weight!

A biologist with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries released the bear in Augusta County. The release went well; the biologist said that the bear ran out of the transport container, and was gone in a flash!

Black Bear yearling #14-0221 has been recovering well after her tooth extraction. The bear has gained weight and is in great body condition. Due to her large size, and given that she has been in the wild for more than a year, the Wildlife Center staff feel comfortable releasing her without moving her to the Black Bear Complex first. On Monday, May 19, a biologist with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will pick up the bear for release.

On April 30, Black Bear #14-0221 was darted and anesthetized for a tooth examination – or rather, a examination of the site of the removed tooth. Dr. Rich was pleased to see the healing progress – he estimates that the extraction site is about 90% healed. There are still some absorbable suture strands present; these should disappear within the next week or two. The bear currently weighs 27 kg – a big improvement over the bear’s admission weight.

The bear will remain on a soft diet until May 7. After she is switched to a normal bear diet, the team will monitor her appetite for several days, and then will consider moving her to the Black Bear Complex with the other recovered yearlings.

On April 15, Black Bear #14-0221 was darted and anesthetized for her dental procedure. The diagnostic team prepped the bear for surgery by shaving one of the bear’s foreleg to insert a catheter.

The 87-minute surgery was successful. Dr. Rich was able to make an incision in the bear’s gum to expose the root of the tooth – which was quite long! Dr. Rich used the Center’s Microaire drill and a donated bur attachment for the dental surgery. The tooth was removed, and Dr. Rich inserted three milliliters of the bear’s blood into the socket to form a clot before the suturing was complete.

An anesthetized Black Bear on a surgery table surrounded by veterinarians and veterinarian technicians
A Black Bear tooth next to a ruler, showing the tooth to be approximately 5 centimeters long

The yearling was placed back in the Large Mammal enclosure. The bear will be fed a soft diet for the next two weeks, until the veterinary team checks on the bear’s healing mouth.

During the week of April 7, Black Bear yearling #14-0221 showed signs of improvement and was moved to the Large Mammal isolation enclosure. At times throughout the first week, the staff noted that the bear appeared to be walking slowly and the bear’s hind legs were weak. This was likely due to muscle atrophy from the bear’s emaciation. By April 12, the staff noted that the bear appeared to be stronger.

On the morning of April 14, Dr. Rich observed the bear as she moved around her enclosure. She was able to successfully climb logs and run away; Dr. Rich also noted that she appeared to be in better body condition. Now that the bear is more stable, Dr. Rich wants to move forward with extracting the bear’s fractured tooth. On Tuesday, April 15, Dr. Rich will take the bear to surgery to extract the bear’s left canine.


Black Bear yearling #14-0221 is eating well and gaining weight. The emaciated yet increasingly feisty yearling now weighs 13.3 kg. On April 7, blood will be drawn for analysis. If blood work results improve, the yearling will be transitioned to a more solid diet this week.