Black Bear cub #22-1376

Admitted
May 29, 2022
Released
April 12, 2023
Rescue Location
Nelson County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Leg fracture
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

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On Sunday, May 29, an injured male Black Bear cub was admitted to the Wildlife Center from Nelson County after it has been spotted in the road for two days. The Center’s veterinary team examined the small cub and found that he had a humeral fracture of his right front leg. Blood work revealed that the bear was also slightly anemic, likely due to blood loss due to the traumatic injury. No other injuries were found.

Dr. Emily, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, placed a splint on the bear cub’s broken leg, and treated him with fluids, anti-inflammatory medication, and pain medication. The bear weighed 2.81 kg. The cub was placed in a Zinger crate and was moved to the vestibule of the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. While the little bear is much too debilitated to directly interact with the three other cubs at the Center, the staff thought that seeing and hearing the other cubs would be beneficial for this young cub. He was able to briefly meet one of the other cubs while his enclosure after feeding while his enclosure was cleaned.

Dr. Karra, the Center’s veterinary director, reached out to the Virginia Veterinary Specialists (VVS) in Charlottesville to see if an orthopedic surgeon would be able to assist with this fracture repair. Given the nature of the fracture and the bear’s young age and rapidly growing bones, the bear cub will greatly benefit from a specialist in fracture repair technique and equipment. Fortunately, the orthopedic surgeon at VVS happily agreed to help with the surgery and will donate his time on his day off to repair the fracture on Thursday, June 2. VVS will only charge the Center for materials used.

Until the scheduled surgery, the bear cub is eating specialized bear formula three times a day from a bottle and mush bowl.

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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.

On June 30, the veterinary team sedated Black Bear cub #22-1376 for another set of radiographs to evaluate the cub’s healing leg fracture. Dr. Karra noted that the incision site was healing very well, and the bear’s range of motion was excellent. Radiographs showed a completely healed fracture, with no movement or abnormalities associated with the metal plate. Dr. Karra sent the images to Dr. Stiffler, who was also pleased with the status of the bear’s injury. While the bear was under anesthesia, the staff placed a white ear tag in each ear.

 

 

The bear will be moved into the connecting chute of the Large Mammal enclosure (measuring about 4' x 8’), as soon as the area can be cleaned and organized. The bear will be in the chute for about a week, and if all goes well, he’ll be given full access to one side of the Large Mammal enclosure with other cubs.

On June 16, the veterinary team sedated Black Bear cub #22-1376 to recheck the bear’s humeral fracture. The bear has reportedly been using his leg well in his confined space. Dr. Karra reported that, on examination, the cub’s leg felt very stable and his range of motion was excellent. Dr. Karra cleaned the incision site well and applied a liquid bandage spray to offer some additional protection.

She sent radiographs to Dr. Stiffler, the surgeon who performed the fracture repair. Dr. Stiffler was very happy with the images – he noted that there were signs of healing, the hardware in the bear’s leg was unchanged, and the growing bones of the bear’s leg looked normal. The bear will continue to be cage-rested in a Zinger crate for the next two weeks, and additional radiographs will be taken at the end of the month.

In the week following his surgery, Black Bear cub #22-1376 has been recovering well in his Zinger crate, which is located in the vestibule of the Center’s Large Mammal enclosure. The veterinary team is keeping the bear mildly sedated during the initial period of his most strict cage rest. The cub has been eating well and gaining weight.

Dr. Karra reports that the surgery for Black Bear cub #22-1376 went well! Dr. Karra and LVT Jess Ransier left the Center at about 7:30 am on the morning of June 2 with the bear. The staff at VVS had Dr. Karra and Jess present the bear’s case at the hospital’s daily rounds prior to surgery. Board-certified surgeon Dr. Kevin Stiffler and the VVS team were able to successfully repair the bear’s fracture during the surgery, which lasted a couple of hours. The bear recovered well before his trip back to the Wildlife Center.

Dr. Stiffler and team has helped Wildlife Center patients in the past — in 2012, he performed a complicated fracture repair on a bobcat, and in 2013, he performed a fracture repair on another Black Bear cub!

The bear will be cage-rested in a Zinger crate for now. In about two weeks, the Center staff will take radiographs to check on the healing progress of the bone.