Black Bear #16-1713

July 28, 2016
April 20, 2017
Rescue Location
Crozet, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Hit by vehicle
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

At about 10:00 p.m. on July 27, Dr. Ernesto received a call on the after-hours emergency phone about a bear cub that had been hit by a vehicle in Crozet, Virginia. The cub had been crossing the road with her mother, who was hit and killed by a vehicle. The local animal control officer was planning on bringing the cub to the Wildlife Center, but unfortunately, three hours later Dr. Ernesto learned that the cub managed to evade capture and climbed a tree for the night. The animal control officers decided to check on the bear the next morning.

At about 7:00 a.m. on July 28, the animal control officers found that the injured cub had fallen out of a tree during the night. The bear was quickly transported to the Wildlife Center, where Dr. Ernesto and Dr. Peach began examining the cub and administering emergency treatment.

The vets found that the cub was bleeding from her nose and mouth, had multiple skull fractures, an injured right hind limb, a swollen right front leg, and trauma to her chest. Drs. Ernesto and Peach were able to see lung bruising on radiographs, and an ultrasound revealed fluid in the bear’s abdomen. The vets provided fluids, oxygen therapy, pain medication, and sedation for the gravely injured cub. The wound on the bear’s foot was cleaned and sutured.

The bear was placed in a zinger crate in the Center’s holding room to rest. Dr. Ernesto improvised a critical care set-up for the bear which delivered oxygen through a nasal canula. The bear is also receiving intravenous fluids (with a sedative and pain medication). The bear cub survived the night, though her condition remains grave.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide emergency medical care to this gravely injured cub … and all of the patients admitted in 2016. Please help!

Patient Updates

Black Bears #16-1133 [Yellow Tag], #16-1713 [Double Pink Tag], and #16-2409 [Pink/Green Tags] were picked up by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries [VDGIF] biologists on Thursday April 20 for release.

On the afternoon of Friday, April 21 the three bears (Black Bear cub #16-2564 [Double Yellow tags], Black Bear #17-0009 [Double Green Tags], and Black Bear #17-0127 [Pink/Yellow Tags]) were picked up by VDGIF biologists for release as well.

Black Bear with Double Green Tags

Rehabilitators Brie and Linda attended the release with the VDGIF biologists. Brie said that the bears were very vocal during the ride to the release site. Once released, the bears ran off quickly.

Five Black Bear cubs were successfully moved to the transition area of the Black Bear Complex today. Double Pink Tag [16-1713] was the first caught; she was brought into the Center’s hospital for her six-week post-op radiographs. Drs. Peach and Ernesto said the healed elbow fracture looks "okay"; while it’s not perfect, it does appear to be stable and well-healed at this point. The bear does have less range of motion in that limb, but at this point, the veterinarians don’t believe it will hinder her.

Pink Tag [#16-1654] was caught next and was also brought into the Center’s hospital for radiographs of her healed jaw. The vets were very pleased with the results.

Orange Tag was then trapped and moved directly to the Bear Complex; Green Tag followed, and lastly, the team moved Black Bear cub #16-1874, the cub that was kept illegally as a pet for some length of time. The five bears will remain in the transition area for the next couple of days so that they can get familiar with their bear cub neighbors before becoming one big group of 10 bears. The transition area door will be opened on Saturday, September 17.

Pink Tag explores:

In the transition area [Orange Tag peeking above the others]

The bears in the yard were curious: 

Thursday, September 15 is moving day for several bear cubs! In the morning, the rehabilitation team will set two large live traps to attempt to catch the cubs in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. Most will move to the Black Bear Complex after an examination from Drs. Ernesto and Peach. On deck to move:

Bear cub #16-1442 [Green Tag] — recovered from a rectal prolapse and subsequent surgery in August
Bear cub #16-1443 [Orange Tag] — recovered from a rectal prolapse
Bear cub #16-1654 [Pink Tag] — recovered from a broken jaw
Bear cub #16-1713 [Double Pink Tag] — recovered from a broken elbow
Bear cub #16-1874 [Green/Yellow Tags] — behavioral issues, kept illegally.

Bear cub #16-1813 will stay behind to be a friend for Bear cub #16-2023, who will be moved to the small connecting chute of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure after the other bears are moved.

Black Bear cub #16-1713 has been doing well during the past couple of weeks. The cub appears to be bearing her full weight on her injured leg, and has been walking normally in her small enclosure. On Thursday, the veterinarians will allow the bear access to the rest of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, which will give her more room to walk and climb, and will also give her bear cub roommates, rather than just next-door neighbors.

If the bear continues using her leg normally, she may be moved to the Bear Complex in the next two weeks, pending radiographs.

Black Bear cub #16-1713 has been doing well in the two weeks following her elbow surgery. The bear has been living in a small portion of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure; at this point, the bear is limited in movement and only has access to the connecting chute between the two larger parts of the enclosure. On Tuesday, August 16, Dr. Ernesto darted the bear to closely check on her injured forelimb; he noted that, at this point, the bear has limited movement in her elbow, but that it was too early to tell if this would be a long-term problem.

The bear is eating well and is gaining weight. The cub also received a pink identification tag in each ear, in preparation for next month’s move to the bear complex.

Black Bear cub #16-1713 recovered from Wednesday’s surgery well, and is back resting comfortably at the Wildlife Center. Dr. Peach reports, "The surgery was long and complicated — as most elbow fracture surgeries are — but in the end, Dr. Padron was pleased with the outcome and thinks that her chances for recovery are good. We’ll expect her to have less 'range of motion' in that elbow compared to the other elbow from fibrous tissue formation around that joint, but it should not cause her any pain."

The bear will be kept in a small enclosure to limit her activity as much as possible during the next four to six weeks; radiographs are scheduled for six weeks post-op. If all is well, the bear cub will move to the bear complex in September.

Drs. Ernesto and Peach consulted with several orthopedic specialists about surgical repair options for Black Bear cub #16-1713. Surgeons concurred that a technique called a "cross pinning fixation" was in order for this particular type of fracture. Even with this specialized fixation, the bear may still experience long-term issues, including limited flexion in the limb and issues with growth plate development.

Dr. Alex Padron, a surgery resident at the Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates in Richmond, offered to do this specialized surgery on the cub. Dr. Padron is donating his time; the cost to the Wildlife Center will just be for the pins, equipment, and anesthesia used during the surgery, which will between $600-$800.

On the morning of August 3, Dr. Peach and veterinary student Kat picked up the Black Bear cub and drove it to Richmond for the surgery. We’re extremely grateful to Dr. Padron and his expertise!

Dr. Ernesto reported that the cub was very feisty this morning when they were preparing her for transport. She’s improved greatly from last week, when she was sedated and receiving supplemental oxygen:


Black Bear #16-1713 made it through the weekend! The cub is still in critical condition, but has made some small improvements and is also eating some soft food on her own. Dr. Peach repeated radiographs on Saturday and noted that the bear’s chest and abdomen looked better than they did upon admission; the bear’s blood work had also improved with a higher red blood cell count. However, as the bear began to move around more, Dr. Peach noted that the bear was favoring her right front leg, which remained very swollen.

On Sunday, Drs. Peach and Ernesto re-radiographed the black bear’s injured right leg from several different angles. This time, the vets could see a fracture in the growth plate of the bear’s humerus, known as a Type-1 Salter Harris fracture. Damage to the growth plates can compromise the length of the bone as the bear grows as well as the bear’s mobility. A splint was applied to the bear’s leg, and Drs. Ernesto and Peach are consulting with several orthopedic specialists to determine viable treatment options for the bear.

Black Bear cub #16-1713 remains in grave condition today. This morning, Dr. Peach treated the bear and performed additional diagnostics, including repeat blood work, radiographs, and another ultrasound. While the bear’s blood pressure is better than yesterday, several of the cub’s blood values have decreased. Typically this would indicate that the bear is losing blood, though Dr. Peach is not able to find a significant source of the blood loss in the bear’s chest or abdomen.

The bear will receive sedatives, pain medication, and supplemental oxygen throughout the weekend.

No phone calls for updates, please! We want to keep the lines open for wildlife emergencies.