Black Bear #18-2983 [Red/White Tags]

October 28, 2018
April 1, 2019
Rescue Location
Winchester, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Thin, wounds
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On October 28, the Wildlife Center admitted another Black Bear cub. The young bear was found in Winchester and was seen in someone’s yard eating cat food; the bear appeared small and thin and had wounds on its head and leg. Animal control officers were able to trap the bear; a biologist with the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries picked up the female cub and transported her to the Wildlife Center.

Dr. Karra, the Center’s veterinary intern, examined the cub when she arrived. The bear was quiet and alert and was defensive when restraint was attempted. Dr. Karra found that the small cub was infested with ticks and had a small wound on top of her head, as well as a wound on the inside of her left elbow. Both injuries were already healing, though the elbow wound appeared to be infected. The cub weighed just 5.4 kg and had a body condition score of 1.5./5.

Radiographs were within normal limits; blood work indicated that the cub was anemic, likely due to the tick infestation. Dr. Karra cleaned and bandaged the cub’s elbow injury and provided fluids and antibiotics. A skin scraping revealed three dead mange mites. While this is a low burden of mites, the team will still treat the bear for mange since mites have a short reproduction cycle, and the presence of the dead mites means there could be mite eggs present. The bear was set up in a Zinger crate in the Center’s holding room and was given a small, soft meal.

This week, the cub will be moved to the Center’s Bear Pens, where the cub can rest and recover during her initial treatment for mange. In two weeks, the bear will be examined again and additional skin scrapings will be taken. Once the bear is mite-free and has gained more weight and fully recovered from her elbow wound, she will be moved to the Bear Complex with the other cubs.

Your donation will help provide care and support for this little Black Bear cub — and for the 3,000 patients the Wildlife Center will treat this year. Thank you!

Patient Updates

On Monday, April 1, the bear releases started – though not as many bears departed today as the staff had planned. Last week, the rehabilitation team attempted to lure the bears out of the trees and into a live trap, so that they could be moved to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure for easier darting, ear tagging, and loading for release. Unfortunately, none of the bears showed interest – so the team had to attempt to dart them today in yard #1.

This group of bears in yard #1 has particularly taken to hanging in the treetops, making the darting particularly challenging. In the end, bear yearling #18-2983 [Red and White Tags] was successfully darted – and that was it from yard #1!

Bear #18-2983 was examined and weighed, and green tags [used for released bears] replaced the red and white tags in the bear’s ears. The bear weighed in at 27.0 kg — a big difference from her October admission weight of 5.4 kg! The bear was in good body condition and had a good hair coat.

Then …                                                                                   … and now!

Bear #19-0166 from Large Mammal Isolation enclosure was also darted, examined, weighed, and tagged for release. This bear yearling weighed in at 10.0 kg.

The staff is glad two bears were able to return to the wild today – they’ll be attempting more live-trapping this week for yard #1. The next bear release takes place on Thursday, April 4, when two bears from yard #3 will be released.

Release Update from the DGIF Biologist: 

"The little one [former Double Pink Tags] ran off like its tail was on fire. The last time I saw him, he was still running. The bigger one [former Red/White Tags]  ran a little ways and then thought about climbing a tree a couple of times and eventually made his way out of sight."

Bear releases are quickly approaching! All of the bear yearlings at the Wildlife Center are nearing their release time — even the bears that were admitted within the past few months as undersized sick, injured yearlings. Not only are the bears old enough to be on their own at this point, but spring is also a good release time, due to the abundance of wild foods.

The six yearlings in yard #1 are all doing well. Each of these bears arrived this past fall or winter; many were underweight, and some tested positive for mange mites. At this point, they are all in good body condition and each has resolved its initial injuries or issues; while these bears aren’t as large as the bears in yard #3 [who have been at the Center since spring 2018], the yard #1 yearlings are healthy and ready to be returned to the wild.

Next week, they’ll all be released! On Monday, April 1, two to four bears will be picked up for release by a DGIF biologist. On Friday, April 5, the remaining bears will be picked up for release. This cohort includes:

Black Bear #18-2921 [Green/Orange Tags], male
Black Bear #18-2926 [Pink/Orange], female
Black Bear #18-2983 [Red/White Tags], female
Black Bear #18-3024 [Orange/Yellow Tags], male
Black Bear #19-0057 [Double Green], female
Black Bear #19-0097 [No Tags], female
Black Bear #19-0166 [Double Pink Tags], female

Since these bears are generally more wary of people, and several enjoy spending their days in trees, the rehabilitation staff will set live traps in yard #1 in hopes of catching some of these bears early in preparation for release. Once trapped, the bears will be moved to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, where they can be more easily and safely darted and anesthetized on their release days next week. Trapping will start Wednesday; the Critter Cam for this yard will cease streaming at that time.

Once the yearlings are anesthetized next week for their final examinations, they’ll be weighed and ear tagged for release. Bears that were admitted to the Center as cubs (“young of the year”) will have green release ear tags; bears that were admitted as yearlings (after Jan 1 of the year following their birth) will wear yellow ear tags.

Black Bear cub #18-2983 [Red/White Tags] was darted and anesthetized on January 3 for a quick physical exam and weight check. The cub did not stay anesthetized for long, but the team was able to get a quick weight on the bear, confirming that the bear weighed 16 kg, which is large enough to move to the Black Bear Complex. The bear, along with roommate bear #18-3024 [Orange/Yellow Tags], was moved to yard #1.

The two bears on the other side of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure – Pink/Orange Tags and Green/Orange Tags – were also moved to the Bear Complex today. Those bears are currently in the transition area of yard #1; the connecting door will likely be opened on January 4, giving the four bears access to all of yard #1.

On November 13, Black Bear cub #18-2983 [Red/White Tag] was anesthetized for an additional skin scraping to check for mange mites. The sedation and anesthesia were uneventful, and the staff were pleased to find no sign of mites on examination. The bear weighed 7.30 kg – about 2 kg more than her admission weight.

On November 15, a severe ice storm hit Waynesboro, causing power outages and multiple downed trees and limbs. A large tree limb fell on the roof of the bear pens, damaging the roof. The following day, the staff moved Red/White Tag to one side of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure.

Another cub with mange, Black Bear #18-3024 [Orange/Yellow Tag], was also displaced from the Bear Pens, but because that bear was still undergoing treatment, the staff kept the cubs separate for another five days. After Orange/Yellow was cleared on November 21, he joined Red/White in the Large Mammal enclosure. The rehabilitation staff report that the two bears have often been observed snuggling together.

On November 1, Dr. Karra carefully examined Black Bear cub #18-2983 prior to moving her outdoors. Dr. Karra gave us this report:

"Today we anesthetized her to recheck her wounds prior to moving her to bear pens. She was anesthetized routinely and was stable during the entire procedure. The wound on the inside of her left elbow has contracted a lot since admission, meaning that the healthy edges of skin are moving into the center of the wound bed. This means that it is healing very well! Only a small portion of granulation tissue in the center remains, and I expect this will heal quickly and without incident. There was no exudate of evidence of infection. The previously wound on the top of her head is scabbed and appears quiet without any sign of infection or inflammation. No ticks were noted. We repeated skin scrapings and found two live and two dead ursacoptes mites (the mite associated with “bear mange”). The hair on her ventral abdomen was mildly thin, but there was no evidence of the marked alopecia or crusty skin that we typically see in our “mange bears”. She was treated with ivermectin already this week in an effort to treat these mites. We also repeated an emergency panel today as she was anemic on presentation. Her PCV has increased to 30% (from an intake value of 24%). This means she is still considered anemic, but has improved and is almost within our reference range. She was also weighed at this check-up and weighed in at 6.4 kg – which is an entire kilo up from her intake exam on Sunday. She was ear tagged with patriotic [for me] ear tags — a white tag in her right ear, and a red tag in her left ear, then was moved to Bear Pen 1. Recovery from anesthesia was quick and uneventful and she started exploring her new enclosure right away.

"The plan for this patient will to be to house her Bear Pens alone as she is considered contagious to the other bears due to her ursacoptes. In two weeks’ time, we will anesthetize her again for repeat blood work, to recheck her wound, and repeat skin scrapings. Just to touch on the more distant future since I’ve had this questions a few times today, she would not be considered a candidate to move to the Bear Yard with the other cubs until she is confirmed to be mite-free, and at least 10 kg in body weight. Likely she will move to Large Mammal Isolation once she is free of mites, and gain some more weight there prior to moving to the yard and being introduced to the other cubs."