Black Bear #18-2293

August 1, 2018
November 19, 2018
Rescue Location
Rappahannock County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Former Patient
Patient photo

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On August 1, an adult female Black Bear was trapped in Rappahannock County; the bear had severe signs of mange, including significant hair loss. The bear was transported to the Center and sedated for an examination with Drs. Peach and Karra.

The bear weighed in at 39.8 kg and was very thin and dehydrated; despite the bear’s condition, her appearance was slightly better than that of Black Bear #18-1952’s initial appearance – another bear that is currently being treated for mange. Dr. Peach estimates that the bear was missing hair on about 80% of her body; the typical skin thickening in severe mange cases was also noted. The team drew blood for analysis and performed several skin scrapings to diagnose the type of mange; licensed veterinary technician Jaclyn was able to identify sarcoptic mange mites. No fractures or other significant injuries were found. The veterinary team gave the bear subcutaneous fluids. After looking at photos of the bear’s teeth, DGIF Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki estimates that the bear is likely eight-years-old.

The bear was placed in one of the Center’s Black Bear Pens. Once the bear is fully awake, the rehab team will offer the bear a small amount of food; when they are able to tell what food the bear will readily eat, they’ll provide a one-time dose of an oral anti-parasitic that will kill the mange mites, which will allow the bear’s hair to regrow. Dr. Peach has been using and researching this mange treatment for the past year; the long-term hope is that when the medication is understood more, perhaps it could be applied in the field, which means fewer afflicted bears would need to go through the stress of capture, transport, and treatment at a wildlife rehabilitation center.

If the bear does well in the coming weeks, she’ll be sedated and examined again on August 15.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide veterinary medical care to this bear … and all of the patients admitted in 2018. Please help!

Patient Updates

On Thursday afternoon, November 15, the Wildlife Center lost power and suffered damage to fences and outbuildings during a severe ice storm. Portions of the Bear Complex were damaged, including a broken water line and several areas of fencing.

In order to make repairs and secure the 11 Black Bear cubs in the complex, the rehabilitation team is planning to shift the cubs to Yard 3 – where adult Black Bear #18-2293 was housed.

Because Black Bear #18-2293 was clinically healthy and had been cleared for release, the veterinary and rehabilitation teams coordinated with DGIF to release the bear as quickly as possible.

On the morning of Monday of November 19, a DGIF biologist trapped and transported the bear to an appropriate release site. The bear was not tagged or collared prior to release, so it’s unlikely that the Center will be able to collect post-release data on this bear.

In the meantime, rehabilitator Brie is working on preparing Yard 3 for the cubs and shifting the bears by November 20.

On October 25, Dr. Peach and rehabilitator Brie anesthetized Black Bear #18-2293 for a re-check examination. Although the bear is consistently eating most of her meals (aside from some of her vegetables), her weight and body condition were roughly the same as they were during last month’s exam. The rehabilitation staff will increase her food to help her gain additional weight in the coming months.

Dr. Peach said that the bear’s coat was in great condition, and skin scrapings revealed no signs of skin mites. Blood work was also within normal limits.

On September 20, Dr. Peach darted and anesthetized Black Bear #18-2293 for a physical exam, blood work, and skin scraping. Overall, the bear showed signs of improvement; blood work had improved, and the bear’s fur has started to grow back. The bear still has crusty skin along her ears and some parts of her body, though many of the thickened scabs are flaking off. Skin scrapes were negative with no signs of mites, and the bear weighed 54.3 kg.

The bear was moved to the Bear Complex and settled into the transition area of yard #3 for recovery. Later in the afternoon, the rehab staff opened the gate into the main part of yard #3. The bear will have a half-acre to explore for the next month until the veterinary team perform another physical exam and blood work.

Black Bear #18-2293 has been improving since her treatment with antibiotics; the rehab staff report that the bear is eating well and has appeared brighter in recent weeks.

On Thursday, September 20, the bear will be darted and sedated for an additional physical exam, skin scraping, and follow-up blood work. As long as her skin scrape is negative and she is continuing to improve, she’ll be moved to yard #3 in the Center’s Black Bear Complex.

On September 3, Black Bear #18-2293 was sedated and anesthetized for a follow-up examination. Dr. Peach performed a physical exam and found that the bear was still thin and had not gained additional weight since her last examination. The bear’s skin and coat were both improved though, with some of the crusting on the bear’s flanks and ears starting to fall off. Skin scrapings revealed only three dead mange mites, indicating that the medication is killing off the parasites.

The bear’s blood work revealed a significant amount of toxic neutrophils, indicating a systemic infection. An infection would explain the bear’s quiet attitude and intermittent inappetence, though there’s no clear explanation why the bear’s blood work is this abnormal. Dr. Peach started the bear on a course of antibiotics; the bear will no longer be in the mange medication study and will be sedated again in two weeks to repeat blood work and skin scrapings.

On August 17, Dr. Peach darted and anesthetized Black Bear #18-2293 for a follow-up examination. It’s been two weeks since the rehab staff provided the bear with her oral medication for treating mange. The staff served the bear the meds in a small dish of food initially, but the bear knocked the bowl upside down, and the staff was unsure if the medication and food had been consumed.

Dr. Peach performed a skin scraping of the bear and the diagnostic team found live and dead mange mites. It may be that the medication was not consumed as suspected two weeks ago; it also may be that the medication is not working for this bear. Another dose of medication will be given, and the bear will be checked again in two weeks.

The bear has been eating during the past two weeks and gained 4.0 kg.

Black Bear #18-2293 has been doing well since her admission; the bear has been quiet, and is often sleeping when the rehabilitation staff checks on her. The bear ate her oral mange medication in a piece of food last week and has generally been eating well.