Black Bear cub #17-0073

January 23, 2017
Rescue Location
Lunenburg County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Separated from mother
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On January 21, two rabbit hunters were out in Lunenburg County, Virginia, when they heard two small bear cubs crying. The cubs were in a den, but there was no immediate sign of the sow. The hunters called the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to consult with them about what to do; the hunters were inclined to leave the cubs there but wanted to inform VDGIF of their location. VDGIF biologists agreed that the two cubs should be left for the rest of the day to allow the sow to come back.

The following day, a biologist checked on the bears and saw no signs of the sow; one of the cubs had crawled out of the den and was extremely cold and wet. The biologist took the cubs and began warming and rehydrating them; sadly, one of the cubs died later that same night. The remaining cub was transported to the Wildlife Center the following morning.

Drs. Ernesto and Peach examined the small cub, likely about 10 days old, and found him to be in good health. The cub was placed in an incubator in the Center’s ICU. The cub will need to be fed every four hours for a total of six feedings in a 24-hour period. Wildlife rehabilitators Brie and Linda will determine their 'round-the-clock feeding shifts for the rest of the week.

VDGIF’s bear collaring project will hopefully identify potential surrogate bear sows with which this bear cub can be placed. The VDGIF biologists have not yet begun den checks since bear cubbing season has only just begun. Within the next week, they’ll be checking den sites and will hopefully find a surrogate mother for this little cub.

You can help the Wildlife Center care for this young Black Bear cub; your donation will help provide specialized formula and round-the-clock care. Please help!

Patient Updates

Black Bear cub #17-0073 did well throughout the weekend at the Wildlife Center. As of Sunday, January 29, he weighed 1.01 kg! On Monday morning, VDGIF’s Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki picked up the cub will be handing him off to another VDGIF biologist for today’s fostering attempt. We hope to hear more later this afternoon.

The VDGIF biologists reported back this afternoon — with news of a fostering success!

Two biologists took the bear cub today to an active den on private property. The den set-up was much more ideal than the one used last week; one biologist was able to sneak up behind the den, and leave the cub very close to the den opening. At the same time, another biologist was watching the den with binoculars, and was able to see the sow with her two cubs. Shortly after dropping off the Center’s cub, the sow poked her head out of the den, sniffed the new cub, and quickly picked him up and placed him with her two cubs.

Biologists don’t want to disturb the sow by too much immediate activity. However, they do plan on returning to the den in a few weeks to assess the situation.

The staff are thrilled with this wonderful news!

Black Bear cub #17-0073 has been doing well since returning to the Center; he’s eating well and has gained 130 grams since his first admission. VDGIF biologists have been doing den checks of the collared female bears they are tracking; Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki notified the Center today that another active den site has been found, and the VDGIF team will attempt fostering on Monday, January 30.

Black Bear cub #17-0073 was picked up by a Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologist on the morning of January 25. He met another biologist in the field, and the two of them placed the cub near the active den site. Unfortunately, there were no signs of activity, and the sow did not come out of the den during the five-and-a-half hour period that the cub was out there. In the afternoon, the biologists decided to retrieve the cub and bring him back to the Wildlife Center.

In the next few days, more den sites will be checked, and additional fostering attempts will be made.

Black Bear cub #17-0073 did well through his first night at the Center. Rehabilitators Linda and Brie took turns coming in through the night. The cub is currently fed six times a day.

Brie says that the cub is taking the bottle more readily now that he’s getting used to the routine and the Wildlife Center’s bear formula. VDGIF biologists have already started some den checks and will be coordinating more throughout the next week. Hopefully, a surrogate sow will be found soon so that the cub can be fostered onto a new family.

Watch the cub sleeping in the Center’s incubator on Critter Cam!

Biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries began checking den sites today; this season, there are 10 collared bears in various locations throughout Virginia that biologist are tracking for a study. According to the VDGIF press release on the study, "Using wild, female bears as surrogate mothers for orphan cubs has been a successful practice in Virginia. Female bears are excellent mothers and will readily take orphan cubs. Each female bear will be visited by DGIF biologists in her winter den, and surrogate mothers will be given an appropriate number of orphan cubs depending on her condition, age, and the number of natural cubs already present."

Fortunately, the first den that was checked today had a cub present! The den is very difficult to get to, as it’s in the middle of a cutover of land where multiple trees have been felled, but the biologists were able to clearly hear a cub in the den.

The Wildlife Center’s cub will be picked up at about 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 25. The biologists will attempt to quietly creep close to the den site, but will plan to leave the cub outside of the den, along with a game camera. The biologists will give the sow a few hours to claim her new charge; if the cub is not accepted, the biologists will pick up the cub and return him to the Wildlife Center.