Black Bear cub #16-0598

May 10, 2016
April 13, 2017
Rescue Location
Staunton, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

Late at night on May 9, a Black Bear sow and her two cubs were crossing a road in Staunton, Virginia, when the mother bear and one cub were hit and killed by a vehicle. The surviving cub was found alone by the road; a deputy with the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office picked up the cub and called the Wildlife Center’s emergency on-call phone.

Drs. Dana and Helen admitted the cub at midnight. The male cub was bright and alert, but very scared. An awake physical examination was performed; no injuries were found. The cub was slightly thin, weighing in at 2.48 kg. Dr. Dana placed the cub in a zinger crate in the Center’s radiology room for the night; a full workup will be performed on May 10.

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Patient Updates

On the morning of April 13, six bears were successfully darted and loaded into VDGIF transport traps for release!

The first group of bears included Yellow/Green Tags [#16-1874], Red/Green Tags [#16-2441], and No Tags [#16-0598]. The second release group included Double Red Tags [#17-1441], Pink Tag {#16-1654], and Pink/White Tags [#16-1813]. The bears were re-tagged with Double Green ear tags prior to release.

A third biologist who was coming to pick up another three bears was called away on an emergency; the release of Yellow Tag, Pink/Green Tags, and Double Pink Tags will be rescheduled.

The remaining bears — White Tag, Red Tag, Orange Tag, and Green Tag — are being treated for their hair loss. So far, the bears have been negative for mange, but the veterinary team is treating them with an anti-parasitic just to be on the safe side.

View more release photos here: 

Releasing the Black Bears of 2016: Day #1

On August 9, Dr. Ernesto darted and anesthetized Black Bear cub #16-0598 [No Tag] so that he could examine the cub’s healing paw. Dr. Ernesto was pleased to see that the bear’s paw looked much better; while the wound still isn’t entirely closed, much of the wound has healed and the cub’s fur has already started growing back. After the wound was cleaned, Dr. Ernesto and students returned the bear cub into yard #2 of the Bear Complex.

Based on the healing progress, Dr. Ernesto feels that the cub will continue to heal during the next week, and will likely do better in the Black Bear Complex with the other cubs.

Black Bear cub #16-0598 [No Tag] has proven to be a typical difficult Black Bear cub patient. The cub didn’t keep his protective e-collar on, nor did he leave his bandage alone. Fortunately, a move to the bear pen enclosure did seem to distract the bear enough to leave his paw injury alone while it was unbandaged, and the cub has been eating his medication in food.

Dr. Ernesto darted and anesthetized the bear on August 2 to closely examine the paw wound. He was pleased to find healthy granulation tissue over the injury, which looked much improved from its initial condition. Dr. Ernesto flushed and cleaned the injury, and decided to attempt a bandage again, this time with a lot more duct tape. The longer the bear leaves the bandage on, the more quickly the injury will heal. Rehabilitation intern Elise reported that as of this morning, the bandage was still on the cub’s paw.

The staff will monitor the cub daily, and will likely re-examine the wound early next week.

On July 24, Critter Cam viewers noted that "No Tag" had a wound on his left front paw. Tori and Elise, the rehabilitation interns, carefully set a large live trap in the bear yard, hoping to catch No Tag. Instead, they ended up catching Pink Tag, the two-year-old female who is living with the cubs! With Pink Tag safely contained, Dr. Ernesto was able to enter the bear yard to dart No Tag. Once the cub was safely sedated, he was brought into the Center’s hospital.

Dr. Ernesto examined the cub’s injury, which appeared to be two to three days old. The degloving injury — one in which the skin was torn off — was cleaned and debrided, though Dr. Ernesto couldn’t suture the wound closed due to the tightening of the skin and location of the wound. Instead, Dr. Ernesto used medical honey to cover the wound, then carefully bandaged the cub’s paw. The cub began a course of antibiotics and pain medications and is currently wearing an e-collar.

The staff are unsure how the cub managed to injure his paw. Depending on how the wound heals (and if the bear leaves the bandage alone), Dr. Ernesto estimates that the bear will need to be treated for the next two to three weeks. Until healed, the bear will be housed in the Center’s bear pens.

On May 10, Dr. Dave anesthetized Black Bear cub #16-0598 for a complete physical exam, radiographs, and blood work. Results were within normal limits and the cub was deemed healthy.

This year, the Center has been able to foster three Black Bear cubs onto surrogate sows at The Virginia Tech Black Bear Research Center. The Research Center works in conjunction with VDGIF and keeps several adult bears during the winter and releases them in the spring. When pregnant sows are trapped for the program, and the bears give birth during the winter, VDGIF is able to foster orphaned cubs onto a new bear mom. Three sows and their cubs have already been released; Virginia Tech currently has one remaining sow who gave birth in February.

Dr. Dave consulted with Jaime, the Black Bear Project Leader with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Jaime decided that this small, healthy cub would be a good fit for the remaining sow at Virginia Tech. On the morning of May 11, the bear cub will be transported to Virginia Tech and introduced to his new mom.

Here’s a video from the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries that highlights the bear fostering program:

When Black Bear cub #16-0598 arrived at Virginia Tech’s Black Bear Research Center, the cub was placed in a crate facing the surrogate sow and her two cubs. One of the two cubs is known to the Wildlife Center as #16-0305, which was fostered onto the sow in April.

A cub introduction typically starts with this sort of “howdy housing” – allowing the new cub and sow to see, smell, and hear one another without direct access. After that, a cub is directly introduced to the sow.

In this particular case, the surrogate sow began huffing and displaying defensive behavior toward the cub. This isn’t a typical reaction, and no one felt comfortable proceeding with the introduction. Jaime noted that introductions of new cubs generally are not done this late in the season, and that could be a factor in the sow’s rejection of the new cub.

The cub will be transported back to the Wildlife Center of Virginia and will be raised with the two other cubs currently in care.