Black Bear cub #20-3590

November 15, 2020
April 29, 2021
Rescue Location
Nelson County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Underweight, anemic
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On the evening of November 15, a Black Bear cub was admitted to the Wildlife Center. The bear was found stumbling in the middle of a road in Nelson County, before collapsing on the road. The bear’s rescuer picked it up and put it in the trunk of his car and took it to the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary. The bear was transferred to the Wildlife Center that same day.

Dr. Sarah, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the cub on arrival. The female bear was very thin, severely dehydrated, with alopecia [missing hair] around her eyes and muzzle. The bear’s teeth were worn and Dr. Sarah noted a possible abscessed right molar. A skin scraping confirmed that the bear had sarcoptic mange mites, though fortunately most of the bear’s coat was in fair condition. Radiographs were within normal limits. The cub weighed 6.5 kg.

The bear was placed in a Zinger crate and moved to the Center’s Bear Pen. On Monday, the veterinary team ran blood work, which revealed that the bear was anemic. The staff offered the bear a soft, easily digestible meal, which the bear started consistently eating in the days following admission. On the morning of November 18, the cub was offered an oral medication in a small tasty treat.

Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this debilitated Black Bear cub … and more than 3,600 patients that the Center has admitted so far this year! 

Patient Updates

The veterinarians and rehabilitators have been working hard during the past couple of days to prepare more bears for release. An ideal release scenario involves luring bears into one of the transition areas, spaces where the bears can be safely darted. While the transition areas are still fairly large, all trees are wrapped to prevent climbing, and these areas are more ideally suited for darting the bears. This year, unfortunately, the team has found that due to tree growth and regular wear-and-tear on the complex, several wily bears have been able to climb and leap over the transition-area fencing, back into the main bear yards. The remaining bears have also been increasingly wary of the number of humans in their space, and are often reluctant to even shift into one of the transition areas.

The team decided that the best solution to this issue was to attempt to live-trap the bears in the complex and then quickly move the bear to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. At that point, a DWR biologist can be notified to pick up the bears the following morning, and the veterinary team is able to quickly and safely dart the bears for their normal pre-release examination and ear-tagging.

Throughout the day on April 28, the veterinary team was able to trap and move four more Black Bears from the Black Bear Complex to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure in preparation for release. Double GreenTags [from yard #1], Pink Tag, White/Yellow Tag, and Green Tag were all successfully moved, and on Thursday, April 29, were picked up for release by a DWR biologist.



Pink Tag: 37.2 kg
White/Yellow Tag: 52.8 kg
Green Tag: 30.9 kg
Double Green [20-3590]: 24.50 kg

This leaves three bears in the Black Bear Complex: Red Tag, Yellow/Pink Tags, and Orange/Yellow Tags. The staff will continue to live-trap the three bears during the next few days; when all three are successfully trapped and moved to the Large Mammal enclosure, a DWR biologist will pick them up for release next week.

Wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey has been in touch with biologists with the Department of Wildlife Resources to start planning ahead for next month’s Black Bear releases!

Later this month, DWR will drop off large culvert traps at the Center so that these can be in place in preparation for next month’s release plan. At this point, the first round of bear releases will take place on April 13 and 14, with additional releases taking place during the week of April 19. The 21 bears in the Bear Complex will be split into multiple smaller groups, for releases in various areas of Virginia.

On February 9, the veterinary team anesthetized Black Bear #20-3609 and #20-3590 for evaluation and moving.

Black Bear #20-3609 weighed in at 25 kg and was a very healthy body condition — a stark contrast from her admission weight of 5.96 kg. Dr. Karra carefully checked the yearling’s eye and was pleased to find that the issue has completely resolved — both eyes are functional and within normal limits. An additional skin scrape was negative for mange mites, and the veterinary team declared that the bear was finally ready to move to the Black Bear Complex! The yearling was placed into the transition area of yard #1, where she successfully recovered.


The bear will remain in this smaller area for the immediate future so the team can continue to observe the bear in a larger space and continue to monitor her eye.

Black Bear #20-3590 weighed in at 25 kg and was a very healthy body condition. The veterinary team placed a green tag in each of the bear’s ears. The yearling still had a small area of crusting and alopecia on her abdomen, which is likely consistent with a mild abrasion or ringworm. A skin scrape was negative for mange mites, and the veterinary team determined that the bear was ready to move to the Black Bear Complex! The yearling was placed directly into yard #1, where she’ll have several days to acclimate to the new space by herself.

After a few days of observation, both bears will have access to the yard together.

The other 19 Black Bear yearlings will continue to have access to Yards 2 and 3.

On December 9, the veterinary team sedated and evaluated Black Bear #20-3590. Dr. Karra reported that the bear was still thin, though the cub had gained weight since admission and currently weighs 10.1 kg. A skin scraping was negative for live sarcoptes mites; three dead mites were found, indicating that mange treatment is working well. The bear will continue to live in the Center’s Bear Pens for the next two weeks until another skin scraping is performed. At that time, the staff will consider moving the bear to yard #1 in the Black Bear Complex.

Black Bear cubs #20-3590 and #20-3609 have been quietly recovering in two of the Center’s Bear Pens. The bears are eating well, and typically receive about six to eight pounds of food a day. During the week of December 7, the veterinary team will plan to sedate both cubs (on two separate dates) to perform follow-up skin scrapings. If both bears test negative for mange mites, they will be moved into adjoining bear pens so that they can have a "nose to nose" introduction. At the end of December, after an additional "clean" skin-scraping, the bears will move to the Black Bear Complex, and will both live in yard #1.