Black Bear cubs #20-0468, #20-0469, and #20-0470

April 12, 2020
May 7, 2021
Rescue Location
Rockbridge County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Orphaned; mother hit and killed by vehicle
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

At about 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 11, a Black Bear sow was hit and killed by a truck on I-64 in Rockbridge County. There were three cubs with her,  and the trucker called the state police. The cubs climbed about 50-60 feet up a nearby tree.

A number of dedicated people stood watch over the cubs during the next 12 hours and ensured that help was on the way. State Troopers N.A. Combs and J.A. Paxton responded to the scene and checked on the cubs throughout the night and Sunday [Easter] morning. Several local bear hunters also responded to the scene to watch over the cubs and to organize a cherry picker to come and safely retrieve the cubs from the tree on the side of the interstate. BARC Electric sent a cherry picker on Easter morning, though the vehicle got stuck in the mud; Jimmy Southers of Auto Towing and Repair provided two wreckers to extract the cherry picker from the mud. The bear hunters attempted to pay both companies, but the drivers refused payment. DGIF Biologist Jaime Sajecki arrived at the scene and transported the cubs to the Wildlife Center.

Jaime estimates that the sow was about six to seven years old, and was in good condition prior to being hit.

Dr. Ernesto examined the three female cubs when they arrived at the Center and found them to be in good health. The cubs were weighed and ear-tagged, and joined "the cubs of 2020" in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure:

#20-0468: Pink Tag: 2.88 kg
#20-0469: Green Tag: 2.57 kg
#20-0470: Red Tag: 2.70 kg

Watch them on the Center’s Critter Cam! 

Your donation will help provide special care to these cubs for the next year — until they are old enough to be released in Spring 2021. 

Patient Updates

On Friday, May 7, the Wildlife Center released the last of the 2020 Black Bears! Orange/Yellow Tags, Yellow/Pink Tags, and Red Tag were darted, anesthetized, examined, weighed, ear-tagged, and loaded for release. Final weights were:

Orange/Yellow: 44.50 kg
Yellow/Pink: 31 kg
Red: 34.90 kg

A biologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources took the three bears to a safe, bear-friendly release location. The entire veterinary team is overjoyed to say goodbye to the "class of 2020" bears!

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.