Black Bear cubs #16-1441, 1442, and 1443

July 5, 2016
June 29, 2017
Rescue Location
Highland County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On the night of Sunday, July 3, a sow was hit and killed by a vehicle as she was crossing a road in Highland County with her four cubs. One of the cubs, a female, was also struck by the vehicle and killed. The remaining three cubs were uninjured and sought safety in nearby trees.

The following day, a biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries was able to successfully dart the three male cubs and loaded them into a bear transport container. The cubs were admitted to the Wildlife Center on the morning of July 5. Drs. Dave and Ernesto loaded the bears into two sturdy zinger crates.

Dr. Ernesto, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the three bear cubs; each received a colored identification ear tag. Cub #16-1441 became "Red Tag" and weighed in at 7.7 kg; #16-1442 became "Green Tag" and weighed 7.1 kg; and #16-1443 became "Orange Tag" and weighed 4.1 kg. Since there is already a "Red Tag" cub in this 2016 cohort, it’s likely one of the Red Tags will receive an additional colored ear tag. All cubs were healthy, with only a few minor lacerations.

The cubs were placed on one side of the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. The four other cubs that have been in the Wildlife Center’s care this year are in the other side of the enclosure. The cubs will be able to see, smell, and interact with each other through the bars of the connecting chute; they will be introduced sometime within the next week.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to these three orphaned cubs … for the next nine months!

Patient Updates

Green Tag’s surgery went well yesterday; Dr. Ernesto was pleased with how everything went and was also pleased with how things looked internally. He noted that the colon and intestines looked healthy; no signs of infection were present. Green Tag recovered from surgery well.

At this point, Orange Tag has not prolapsed again, though the veterinary staff check on him daily.

The five bear cubs in the transition area of the Black Bear Complex have been doing well during the past week and will be let back into the main yard today.

On August 23, Dr. Ernesto checked on Green Tag and Orange Tag in the Large Mammal Isolation Complex. Orange Tag appeared to be doing well, but unfortunately, Green Tag’s rectum prolapsed again — for the third time.

Dr. Ernesto will take Green Tag to surgery on the morning of August 24 to perform a colopexy. In this procedure, a portion of the bear’s colon will be attached to the abdominal wall, which should prevent additional prolapses.

During the week of August 15, Critter Cam viewers noted that Black Bear cub "Orange Tag" had a similar hind end issue as Green Tag did the week before. The veterinarians attempted to capture the cub for several days, but Orange Tag managed to evade capture each time and spent a fair amount of time in the top of a very tall tree. Finally, on Friday, August 19, the bear was able to be trapped in a large live trap left in the bear yard.

Dr. Peach examined the cub in the Center’s hospital, and found that he also had a rectal prolapse, just as his brother Green Tag did. Dr. Peach was able to successfully clean and "reduce" the prolapse [i.e., return the rectum into the body]. Sutures were placed around the bear’s anus to assist in keeping everything in place.

The veterinary team is not sure why two bears are having the same issue; prolapses can occur from prolonged straining [constipation or diarrhea], parasites, or a congenital issue. So far, neither bear has had any indication of parasites, but fecals will continue to be collected during the next week.

Green Tag had been healing well in the Center’s holding room, so on August 20, his sutures were removed. The following day, the cub’s rectum prolapsed again. Additional sutures were placed, and the cub will continue to be closely monitored. Drs. Ernesto and Peach decided that it would be easier to monitor the two bears in a larger space, and the two cubs would likely be happier as well, so both cubs were moved to one side of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure on Sunday afternoon.

The remaining bears in the complex [including Double Red Tag, brother to these two cubs] will remain in the transition area for the next week so that the staff can monitor the cubs closely. If there are any other issues, the team will be able to dart the cubs more effectively in this area.

During the weekend, it was noted via Critter Cam that Green Tag had diarrhea. On Sunday, the bear appeared to have an injury to his hind end, though it was difficult to interpret what the issue was. On Monday, August 15, Dr. Ernesto was able to safely dart Green Tag, and the cub was brought down into the Center’s hospital for a full examination.

The cub had a rectal prolapse, which can be due to excessive straining. The staff are unsure what the root cause is of the diarrhea, but are carefully watching the other cubs. No significant issue was observed in the cubs' area when the staff were in the yard on Monday.

Dr. Ernesto carefully cleaned the affected area on Green Tag and was able to "reduce" the prolapse [i.e., return the rectum into the body]. Sutures were placed around the bear’s anus to assist in keeping everything in place. The cub will live inside the Center’s holding room for the immediate future, while the staff continue to closely monitor the bear and his diet.