Black Bear #16-0364

April 23, 2016
August 26, 2016
Rescue Location
Frederick County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

April 23 was a busy day for admissions – particularly bear admissions! Shortly after Black Bear yearling #16-0354 was admitted, another Black Bear arrived at the Center.

Black Bear #16-0364 was trapped near Winchester, Virginia by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). Several bears with severe mange have been seen in this area; some bears have been so severely affected and suffering that humane euthanasia has been necessary. Black Bear #16-0364 appeared to be treatable when he was trapped on April 22, and a DGIF biologist transported it to the Center the following day.

Dr. Dana was unable to get the bear sedated enough to safely examine it, so a visual examination was performed. The bear had moderate alopecia (hair loss) and thickened, crusted skin all over its face, ear tips, and both forelimbs. There was also alopecia along the back of the bear and at the base of the tail. Dr. Dana estimates that the bear’s body condition was 1/5, and the bear showed signs of poor muscle mass. The staff estimate that the bear may be two years old, and should be able to learn more during a physical examination of the teeth.

The bear was safely transferred from the transport trap into the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure while the bear was moderately sedate, and a weight was obtained by placing a large scale into the shoot connecting the two isolation enclosures. The bear weighed in at 25.8 kg. The bear appeared to be walking with a hunched posture but was weight-bearing evenly on all four limbs. It’s possible that the bear is weak, due to its thin condition; it’s also possible that the hunched posture was a lingering effect of the sedation.

Dr. Dana started the bear on an oral treatment for bear mange, which the bear will receive once a week for a total of four treatments. The rehabilitation staff will offer the bear a regular bear meal in gradually increasing amounts during the next few days to decrease the risk of re-feeding syndrome. The staff will likely attempt to dart the bear this week to perform a full physical examination and blood work.

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

Patient Updates

On Friday, August 26, Black Bear #16-0364 was successfully darted in preparation for release. Dr. Peach removed the bear’s pink identification tag and placed a white tag in each year, which is the color designated for the research/surrogate program. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki came to fit the bear with a radio-collar, which will study the movements, denning habits, and home ranges of this wild female bear. Learn more about the radio-collaring project here.

Jaime also discovered the female bear was in estrus. In Virginia, Black Bear breeding typically occurs in mid-June to mid-July, though sometimes the season extends into late August. Jaime thinks there is still a chance that this bear could mate this season.

Black Bear #16-0364 [Pink Tag] has been doing well by herself in the transition area of yard #1 of the Black Bear Complex. On Friday, August 26, a biologist with the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries will pick up the bear for release.

During the past week, Dr. Dave has been conferring with VDGIF Black Bear Project Leader Jaime on release plans for Black Bear #16-0364. The bear’s hair coat has grown back in beautifully, and the bear is in excellent condition. Since the two-year-old hasn’t fulfilled the role of a surrogate to the seven cubs at the Wildlife Center, the team has been discussing release arrangements.

On the morning of August 10, the Wildlife Center received word from a VDGIF biologist that a new bear with mange was captured and will be transported to the Wildlife Center, from the same general region where VDGIF would like to release bear #16-0364. The rehabilitation staff will set a baited live trap in the bear complex for Black Bear #16-0364; if the bear can be caught, the Wildlife Center will do a quick "bear exchange" later today. The new bear will be sedated and unloaded from the transport trap; the bear trap will then be thoroughly disinfected and Black Bear #16-0364 will be loaded for release.

On Thursday, June 2, Dr. Helen and veterinary technician Leigh-Ann darted and examined Black Bear #16-0364. Dr. Helen reports, “I was shocked at how much her coat has improved. She looks like a totally different bear! The areas that were completely bare now have short fur present!! Her coat has GREATLY improved with treatment.” Dr. Dana took a break from afternoon treatments and admissions to see the bear for herself; Dr. Dana was also quite pleased and said the difference in the bear’s appearance was like night and day.

Leigh-Ann performed a skin scraping; no parasites were found. The bear received a final dose of ivermetcin (anti-parasitic medication) and a final dose of an antibiotic. The bear weighed 42.8 kg. Since her coat had greatly improved and the bear was parasite-free, the decision was made to move her into Black Bear Complex yard #2 with the three bear yearlings.

On May 12, Drs. Dana and Helen darted and sedated Black Bear #16-0364 for a recheck examination and blood work. The bear was successfully darted and brought into the Center’s hospital.

Dr. Dana noted that the bear’s body condition has improved during the past two weeks, though the bear still needs to put on more weight. The bear’s skin has also slightly improved, but thick, crusty patches are still present. The veterinary team bathed the bear again with a medicated shampoo and attempted to remove as much of the crusty skin as possible. The bear’s hair is not yet growing back, but a repeat skin scrape revealed only dead mange mites. Blood work was within normal limits. The bear weighed 34 kg.

The bear will receive two more oral doses of ivermectin (an anti-parasitic medication) to ensure that all mange mites are treated effectively. The veterinary team will continue to visually monitor the bear and in two weeks, after the last dose of ivermection, the bear will be sedated again.

On April 28, Drs. Dave and Dana successfully darted and sedated Black Bear #16-0364. The bear was brought into the Wildlife Center’s hospital for a full examination and radiographs, along with blood work and biopsies.

The female bear weighed in at 30 kg, and, based on her teeth, Drs. Dave and Dana were able to confirm the bear is two years old. While the bear was under anesthesia, Dr. Dana was able to fully examine the extent of the bear’s mange. There was severe thickening, crusting, and scaling of the bear’s skin throughout her body; the bear was most severely affected on her face, ears, neck, and shoulders. A skin scrape confirmed that the bear suffers from sarcoptic mange; Dr. Dave was able to identify both live and dead mites on the slide.

No fractures or other injuries were found on radiographs; blood work analysis confirmed a mildly elevated white blood cell count as well as anemia. The veterinary team took several skin biopsies to be sent off to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study for additional mange research.

Dr. Dana gave the bear a second dose of ivermectin (an anti-parasitic medication) as well as a long-lasting antibiotic, to treat any secondary skin infections from the severe mange. The bear also received a bath with medicated shampoo, which some lucky Critter Cam viewers were able to see!

A pink ear tag was placed in the bear’s right ear, and the bear was returned to the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. The bear will receive another oral dose of ivermectin this week, and Dr. Dana plans to chemically immobilize the bear on May 12 for a re-check examination, blood work, and skin scraping.