Black Bear cub #22-0685

Admitted
April 27, 2022
Released
April 12, 2023
Rescue Location
Greene County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Separated from mother
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On April 26, property owners in Greene County found a young Black Bear cub in their barn, under a tractor, just hours after a severe storm rolled through central Virginia. There were no signs of the mother bear that evening or the next morning, and after a discussion with the Department of Wildlife Resources, the rescuers brought the cub to the Wildlife Center on April 27.

Dr. Emily, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the small male cub when he arrived. The bear was alert and vocal, in thin body condition, and had a heavy burden of fleas and ticks. Blood work, radiographs, and a skin scraping were all within normal limits. The cub weighed in at just 1.40 kg.

The rehabilitation staff set the bear up in a zinger crate in the same space as Black Bear cub #22-0462 for the night. The following morning, the rehabilitation staff found the little cub unconscious, unresponsive, and cold and rushed the cub into the Center’s clinic for veterinary intervention. The team suspects that the cub was experiencing a hypoglycemic episode – likely the stress of capture, transport, and admission to the Center combined with the underweight cub’s thin body condition caused the severe reaction overnight.

The veterinary team immediately provided intensive care for the cub on the morning of April 28, working to revive the young bear. They worked to warm the bear’s low body temperature with heating pads and the Center’s new Bair Hugger, and administered both subcutaneous and intraosseous fluids with dextrose. The bear’s blood pressure was too low to place an intravenous catheter, but after about a half-hour of intensive care, the little cub began to recover.

The cub spent the next two days in an incubator in the Center’s holding room, and the staff carefully observed the bear, offering many small meals throughout the day and evening. Despite being underweight, the cub was turning away from food, so the veterinary team offered an anti-nausea medication, which appeared to help. The veterinarians also started the bear on an injectable course of antibiotics to treat any potential septic infections.

On Saturday, April 30, the bear was well enough to return to a Zinger crate, near Black Bear cub #22-0462. The bear is much improved from Friday morning, though his prognosis still remains guarded as he recovers. The staff note that he is a picky eater and is reluctant to nurse from a bottle, though the bear will drink formula from a bowl fairly well, as long as it’s made more tempting with a small amount of strawberry syrup and applesauce.

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Patient Updates

On April 12, the four remaining Black Bears of 2022 were successfully released!

On the evening of April 11, wildlife rehabilitator Mac was able to successfully lure the four bears into the transition yard where there were two set bear traps. The bears were enclosed in the transition area, and within an hour, both Blue Tag and Double Pink Tags were trapped.

The following morning, the veterinary team was able to successfully dart and anesthetize Double Yellow and Double White; once those bears were safely examined, weighed, tagged, and loaded into transport containers, the team then sedated Double Pink Tags for a final exam and weight. Double Blue remained in the transport trap and remained awake as he departed the Wildlife Center; the DWR biologists sedated and worked up Blue Tag in the field prior to release.

All four bears were taken to the same general habitat; Double Yellow and Double White were released together in one area, and Blue Tag and Double Pink were released on the opposite end of the habitat. DWR biologist Carl and wildlife rehabilitator Mac said the releases went well!

The final weigh-in, from largest to smallest:

Double Yellow Tags (#22-0462): 50 kg
Double Blue Tags (#22-0685): 45.45 kg
Double White Tags (#22-1376): 28.5 kg
Double Pink Tags (#22-1087): 26.90 kg

The biologists were unable to weigh Double Orange Tags last week but estimated he weighed about 31 kg.

 

 

In February, Dr. Karra, the Center’s Director of Veterinary Services, was contacted by staff from the Department of Wildlife Resources to start planning the release of the Black Bear cubs of 2022. Given how mild the weather has been, the release has been scheduled for the first week of April. The current plan is to release one group of bears on Tuesday, April 4 and another group on Wednesday, April 5.

To facilitate this, staff from DWR will bring large culvert traps to the Center that will be placed inside the bear yards. The bears will have about a week to get used to the traps before the day of the planned capture.

During the past month, the rehabilitation team has started to increase the bears' diet in preparation for spring and their upcoming release.

During the past week, Black Bear cub #22-0685’s condition has improved. Rehabilitation staff report that the cub was happy to eat his meal on the morning of May 1 after being transitioned back to a Zinger crate near Black Bear cub #22-0462. The cub is still underweight and in thin body condition, but his appetite has continued to grow throughout the week, resulting in a slight increase in weight. On May 5, the cub weighed in at 1.70 kg — 30 g heavier than his intake weight of 1.40 kg.

Between scheduled feedings, both cubs are now having supervised play sessions together in their sheltered outdoor space – an important aspect of proper development in young bears. For now, the cub will remain under close observation by the veterinary and rehabilitation staff at the Center.