Black Bear cubs of 2018

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In April 2018, the Wildlife Center began admitting this year’s bear cubs from locations throughout Virginia. These bears were likely born between early January to mid-February of 2018. In most cases, the cubs were separated from their mothers or were orphaned.

Bear cubs will be cared for by the Wildlife Center until next spring, at the time when they would begin naturally dispersing from their mothers. The 2018 cubs will be released in the spring of 2019.

To limit human interaction, only a few staff care for the bear cubs. Cubs admitted in the early spring typically need supplemental heat; they live in one of the Center’s patient rooms and are bottle- or bowl-fed a special bear formula multiple times a day. When they are old enough to move outside, they continue to live in a contained zinger crate, with access to a larger play space during feeding sessions. After that, the cubs are housed in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure [typically moving in May]. Once the bear cubs are weaned from formula, they are moved to the Center’s Black Bear Complex, where they have a half-acre of forest to explore.

When introduced to other bears, each cub has a temporary colored tag placed in its ear. These tags will be removed prior to release and will be replaced with permanent green ear tags from the Virginia Department of Inland Fisheries. The temporary colored tags allow the Center staff to monitor and identify the cubs via Critter Cam. The green "release" tags identify them as rehabilitated bears.

The 2018 bears are divided into two groups:

Black Bear cub #18-0345, [Green Tag], female
Black Bear cub #18-0346 [Orange Tag], female
Black Bear cub #18-0349 [No Tag], male
Black Bear cub #18-0350 [Pink Tag], female
Black Bear cub #18-0383 [Red], male
Black Bear cub #18-0497 [Yellow Tag], male
Black Bear cub #18-0498 [White Tag], male
Black Bear cub #18-0933 [Double Green Tags], male
Black Bear cub #18-1089 [Double Pink Tags], female
Black Bear cub #18-1315 [Double Yellow Tags], male
Black Bear cub #18-1316 [Double Orange Tags], male


Black Bear cub #18-2921 [Green/Orange Tags], male
Black Bear cub #18-2926 [Pink/Orange], female
Black Bear cub #18-2983 [Red/White Tags], female
Black Bear cub #18-3024 [Orange/Yellow Tags], male
Black Bear #19-0057 [Double Green], female
Black Bear #19-0097 [No Tags], female

Frequently Asked Questions about Black Bear cub rehabilitation

Cubs in the News:

The car crash left a bear dead in the road. Then a state trooper spotted her 2 cubs., The Charlotte Observer

Two black bear cubs rescued after traffic crash, The Franklin News-Post

Troopers rescue black bear cubs in Franklin County, WSLS-TV

Cute Orphaned Cubs Get Some Bear Care at Wildlife Center, Inside Edition 

Trooper, Wildlife Center combine to rescue bears, The News Virginian

Wildlife Center cautions drivers to be on the lookout for bear cubs, WHSV-TV 

Your donation will help provide long-term rehabilitation and care to these special patients. Thanks for your support!

Patient Updates

Yesterday’s releases of the seven bears went well; the bears were actually split into three groups and released a few miles apart from one another. Wildlife rehabilitators Brie and Kelsey were able to attend, and got some photos and videos! DGIF outreach people were also in attendance and will be sharing photos and videos at some point.

Double Yellow and Double Green Release: 

Green, Orange, and Red Release: 

Today’s double bear release has been postponed due to uncooperative bears; the last two scheduled for release today were moved into the transition area of yard #1 last night, but Brie came in early today to find that both had managed to climb over the black protective plastic around one of the trees in the transition area. This means the bears are much too high to safely dart; despite coaxing and tempting the bears, neither wanted to come down. The rehab staff will attempt to live trap the bears this weekend and move them to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure for a release next week.

Spring is approaching – and it’s almost time to say goodbye to the Black Bears of 2018!

All of the bears in the Center are yearlings – bears are typically born in the winter months, meaning that these bears likely turned one-year-old in January. In the wild, cubs stay with their mothers through the winter, and when they emerge from their winter denning spots as yearlings in the spring, they start to venture off on their own. Similarly, the Center cares for injured and orphaned cubs throughout the fall and winter of the year they were born, and the following spring, it’s time for release!  Not only are the bears old enough to be on their own at this point, but spring is also a good release time due to the abundance of wild foods.

Wildlife rehabilitator Brie is scheduling the release of all 17 Black Bears with the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. Even the bears that were admitted this winter as undersized yearlings are ready to go – they’ve all put on weight, are in good body condition, have resolved all health issues, and are ready to be in the wild.

During the first two weeks of April, the bears will be released in five or six different groups. So far, release dates are scheduled for:

  • Monday, April 1: two to four bears from yard #1
  • Thursday, April 4: two bears from yard #3
  • Friday, April 5: remaining bears from yard #1
  • Thursday, April 11: seven bears from yard #3

The team is excited to return these bears back to the wild!

On January 17, the bear cubs celebrated their “Parturition Day”– there was a celebration for their collective birthdays!

In Virginia, Black Bear sows typically give birth in mid- to late January. According to a study by Kim Echols, in Virginia, Black Bear sows have been documented giving birth from December 19 to February 22 – with a median date of January 17. While the Center occasionally admits a very young cub in January or February, typically the cubs begin to arrive in April and May, when they are starting to emerge from dens with their mothers. The 15 bears now at the Center were admitted in 2018 – 11 were admitted in the spring months, the other four came later in the summer or fall.

To mark this special day, wildlife rehabilitators Brie and Kelsey constructed two piñatas – they constructed them with newspaper and flour paste the day before, then stuffed the dried piñatas with mealworms and nuts before giving them to the bears.

The bears in yard #3 – the 11 bears that have been here the longest – wasted no time in grabbing and destroying their new toy, and they devoured their special treats. The yearlings in yard #1 are a bit more wary – none of the bears immediately dived in, but Critter Cam viewers may catch them enjoying their treats later!

Happy birthday, bears!



Black bears celebrate first birthday at Wildlife Center of Virginia, WHSV-TV 

The 11 Black Bear cubs in yard #3 of the Center’s Black Bear Complex are all doing well. They’ve put on a good bit of weight this past fall; since we’re now in winter, the rehabilitation staff have cut back on the bears' food and are fasting the bears on Sunday. It’s more likely that the bears still have plenty of food to pick from on that particular day of the week, but by not offering fresh bags and buckets of food, the bears will stay at a healthier weight.

Recently, a number of used Christmas trees were dropped at the Center; the bears received their first enrichment tree in the week following Christmas. It seems safe to say that they enjoyed it very much!



Wildlife rehabilitation intern Shannon reports that all of the cubs are doing well in the Bear Complex – they are exploring, climbing, and utilizing all of their one-acre space. Shannon says that the bears are fairly wary of their next-door neighbor, adult bear #18-1952.

The rehabilitation team delivers food daily to the cubs. For the past few days, the rehab staff has been dumping the food from the tower; they’ll soon switch to delivering the food in brown paper bags that are tossed over the fence. This will allow the staff to scatter the food widely throughout the two yards. Bears aren’t fed at a specific time of day, but the food is usually delivered in the afternoon or early evening. The cubs are also likely enjoying food found naturally in the forest – insects in and under logs, some natural browse growing in the complex, and, this fall, acorns will be available as they fall into the yards.

The Black Bear cubs of 2018 were successfully moved to the Bear Complex on Thursday, August 23!

Dr. Peach sedated the bears so that she could draw blood for the final week of her mange medication study. All of the bears are in excellent shape, and are quite large! The bears were weighed before the move:

  • Pink Tag: 21.8 kg
  • Double Pink Tag: 14.2 kg
  • Orange Tag: 25.7 kg
  • Double Green Tag: 20.8 kg
  • Double Orange Tag: 25.8 kg
  • White Tag: 23.4 kg
  • Red Tag: 25.9 kg
  • Green Tag: 24.4 kg
  • Double Yellow Tag: 21.5 kg
  • Yellow Tag: 27.4 kg
  • No Tag: 24.3 kg

Dr. Peach split the cubs into two groups for the final blood draw and move. The first group of cubs — Pink Tag, Double Pink Tag, Orange Tag, Double Green Tag, Double Orange Tag, and White Tag — were moved into the transition area of yard #1. Wildlife rehabilitators Brie, Kelsey, and Shannon watched over the cubs as they woke up and started to explore their new area.

The second group of cubs — Red Tag, Green Tag, Double Yellow Tag, Yellow Tag, and No Tag — were moved into the transition area of yard #2 to recover.

The Center made some final fixes to the water tubs and drinkers in the Bear Complex; at about 4:00 p.m., Dr. Ernesto and Kelsey opened the gates to give all 11 cubs access to both yards #1 and #2.

More photos of the big move!

Black Bear cubs of 2018: Move to the Complex!

The 11 Black Bear cubs have been doing well in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure; the cubs are eating well and growing quickly! The wildlife rehabilitation team will be happy to move the bears to the Bear Complex in two weeks. At this point, the plan is to allow the cubs to roam in yard #1 and yard #2 in the complex, which will give all 11 cubs access to a one-acre area.


The Black Bear cubs are doing well; they are eating, growing, playing, and enjoying their daily enrichment! The wildlife rehabilitation team have been taking short videos of various enrichment items that are introduced to the cubs – including:

Bamboo “wind chimes”:

Creative firehose toys, stuffed with goodies:

Watermelons – on a rope!

Not only are these enrichment items entertaining for the bears, but they also help develop natural skills that bears will use in the wild to climb, stretch, and forage for food.

Dr. Peach’s weekly blood draws for her study are going well; she reports that Yellow Tag is still the largest cub and currently weighs more than 20 kg!

The 11 Black Bear cubs are doing well in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. The bears were fully weaned from their “mush bowls” this week, and are now eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds, insects, and greens. Wildlife rehabilitator Brie said that none of the bears seemed to miss their mush bowls in the past two days, and the cubs are eating a lot more “adult foods” now, which means the Wildlife Center kitchen is going through a good bit of produce!

The weekly Thursday blood draws for Dr. Peach’s study are going well; the added benefit to this is that Dr. Peach gets to successfully weigh and examine each cub every week. All of the cubs are gaining weight – nearly all are more than 10 kg, with three cubs [Green, Orange, and Yellow] weighing in at more than 15 kg! The smallest bear, Double Pink, weighs 6.64 kg. All signs of ringworm are gone, and the bears are in good condition.

The Black Bear cubs are doing well at the Center; they are all still receiving one mush bowl each, plus an ever-expanding “adult” diet of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and insects. All cubs have been weaned from their bottle feedings and soon will be weaned from their bear formula mush bowls entirely – wildlife rehabilitator Brie anticipates discontinuing mush for most of the cubs at the start of July, though the smallest cub, #18-1089 [Double Pink] may continue to receive a mush bowl while she’s housed separately.

The rehab staff continues to get creative with the daily enrichment offered to the cubs – some of the recent items have been a tire tower and a Chewy box stuffed with leaves and treats!

Last week, the cubs began Dr. Peach’s study on a new drug for treating mange in Black Bears. The cubs received the medication on Thursday and had blood draws on Friday; everything went smoothly. Dr. Peach had the opportunity to check each cub thoroughly during the blood draw process; she said all 10 cubs appeared to be in good condition. Some of the cubs still have some hair loss due to ringworm, but overall, they look good and no additional hair loss has developed. The next blood draw for the study will take place on Thursday, June 21.

All 10 cubs are eating well, and the two newest orphaned cubs are settling in with the cohort of bears. The rehab staff adds enrichment to the enclosure daily, which may be freshly cut tree branches to smell and taste, boxes filled with food, or new food items to explore. Some of the cubs enjoy catching the rehabilitators filling their tubs with fresh water each day, like Green Tag in this video:



The bears will remain in the Large Mammal enclosure until the study is complete in August; this also will ensure that the smallest bears can move to the Complex with the larger bears, since they won’t be weaned for several more weeks.

The 10 Black Bear cubs are doing well in the Center’s Large Mammal enclosure; they are sampling a variety of different foods that have been introduced to their diet – apples, pomegranates, other fruits, and greens. Each cub is also receiving a mush bowl daily, and Orange, Green, and Red tagged bears are also still bottle-feeding once a day, though as of June 11, Brie noted that they showed less interest.

Soon, all 10 of the healthy cubs will be participating in a study led by Dr. Peach, the Center’s wildlife research fellow. Dr. Peach is conducting a study of a new drug used for treating bear mange. If proven safe and successful, this one-time treatment could be applied in the field, which means fewer afflicted bears would need to go through the stress of capture, transport, and treatment at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Bear mange is a growing problem in many states, including Virginia. By participating in this study, these 10 cubs will be helping countless other wild Black Bears.

The study will begin on Thursday, June 14. Wildlife rehabilitator Brie will administer the oral medication to each cub. The following day, the cubs will be sedated for a blood draw; additional blood draws will happen each Thursday for the next 10 weeks. While none of these cubs has mange, the repeated blood analyses of each cub will offer valuable information on this medication. During this weekly assessment, Dr. Peach will also be able to examine and weigh each bear. After the conclusion of the study on August 23, the bears will be moved to the Bear Complex.

A bear cub enjoying a bath: 

The eight black bear cubs in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure are doing well and gaining weight. On Thursday, May 31, the rehabilitation staff weighed the cubs, most for the last time without sedation; they are now too big and strong to be handled and weighed while awake. The staff will continue to weigh Double Green tag until he reaches 5 kg.

Current weights [5/31] are:

Green Tag: 8.1 kgs
Orange Tag: 8.25 kgs
No Tag: 7.6 kgs
Pink Tag: 7 kgs
Red: 5.9 kgs
Yellow Tag: 8.4 kgs
White Tag: 6.6 kgs
Double Green Tags: 3.4 kgs

On June 1, rehabilitation intern Shannon introduced the bear cubs to whole foods (rather than chopped or soaked foods). Green tag was especially pleased to discover apples.

The Black Bear cubs are doing well in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure; cub #8 will be joining them soon! Last week, the Center admitted another Black Bear cub, but since he only weighed 2.5 kg at admission, he has some weight to put on first before joining the others in the main enclosures. At today’s weigh-in, he was 2.7 kg – so should be able to come out of his Zinger crate in the next week.

The rest of the cubs are doing well and growing quickly. Most are at the point where they could be reduced to one mush bowl feeding a day, but the smallest of the cubs [Red Tag and now Double Green Tag] still need two feedings a day. Since there’s no way to have two out of eight bear cubs eat mush bowls, all cubs will enjoy the additional food until the smallest are more than 5 kg.

At this point, mush bowls contain a thickened bear formula, along with soft “adult” foods – soaked dog chow, veggies, and fruits. The first feeding of the day typically takes place during the late morning; the second round of mush bowls is delivered in the evening.

The Black Bear cubs are doing well since their move to the Large Mammal enclosure earlier this week. The former Green Tag was unhappy to be separated from her siblings as her ear healed, but fortunately on the evening of May 9, wildlife rehabilitator Brie examined it and thought it was healed enough to be introduced to the others. All seven cubs are housed together in one side of the Large Mammal enclosure; the rehab staff will get the other side ready in the next couple of days so that the cubs have more space to play! Watch them on Critter Cam 3.

The cubs are now fed twice a day; Green Tag, Orange Tag, and future Red Tag are still being bottle-fed in addition to eating mush bowls. The other cubs are only interested in their mush bowls. The staff attempt to do the first feeding of the day in the late morning, the second feeding occurs in the evening.

Here are a few videos of the cubs playing before they were moved earlier this week.

During the past week, the rehabilitation staff have been carefully monitoring the lesions on Pink Tag’s face; No Tag and (future) Red Tag also developed some small patches of hair loss. The staff took several hair samples and the Center’s diagnostic team started a DTM  (dermatophyte test medium) to check for the ringworm fungus. On Monday, May 7, results came back positive for ringworm growth. The technicians were able to “type” the ringworm and concluded that the bears have a highly contagious form of the fungus. It’s likely that one (or two) of the cubs came in with ringworm, and started showing symptoms in the weeks following their admission.

At this point, the veterinary team is going to treat all of the cubs with a medicated spray while the bears are still eating formula. During each feeding, the staff will wipe down the cubs with the medication.

Wildlife rehabilitator Brie noted that the area around Green Tag’s ear appeared to be inflamed and swollen; on May 15, the veterinary team anesthetized the bear cub to remove the ear tag and clean the ear. For now, “Green Tag” will be without a tag.

The cubs that weren’t showing signs of the ringworm – Orange Tag, Yellow Tag, and White Tag – were moved to half of the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure late in the afternoon on Monday. The three cubs that are showing signs of ringworm were moved on Wednesday, May 9 — all cubs will need treatment, and wildlife rehabilitator Brie thought it would be easiest to manage all of them together. Green Tag will temporarily be housed in the connecting chute of the Center’s Large Mammal enclosure, so that she can see and interact with the other cubs, but doesn’t have direct access while her ear heals.

Stop by Critter Cam and catch a glimpse of the cubs!

The seven bear cubs are doing well at the Center; the wildlife rehabilitation team looking forward to getting at least half of these rambunctious cubs into the Large Mammal enclosure area as soon as possible! Within the next week, a few door repairs should be complete, and the cubs that weigh more than 3.0 kgs will be able to move.

The newest cubs – Yellow Tag and White Tag – took several days to settle in, but rehabilitator Brie reports that they are becoming less shy and are now eating well. Cubs No Tag and Pink Tag are very active and playful; the rehab team noticed a small wound near Pink Tag’s eye this week that appears to be from a particularly rough wrestling match. The team is monitoring the small wound at each feeding; it doesn’t appear to be getting worse.

Current weights [5/3] are:

White Tag: 3:00 kg
Yellow Tag: 3.66 kg
Future Red Tag: 2.73 kg
Pink Tag: 3.38 kg
No Tag: 3.82 kg
Orange Tag: 4.12 kg
Green Tag: 3.98 kg

Wildlife rehabilitator Brie reports that the bear cubs are enjoying their new space in the sheltered outdoor Metal Cage Complex. Most of the other small enclosures used for housing raptors have been cleared out of the space so that the bear cubs have plenty of room to run around during their play sessions. The rehabilitation team even constructed a fun jungle gym for the cubs, though Brie notes that the cubs are also happy trying to climb the walls and door!

Current weights are:

Green Tag: 3.05 kg
Orange Tag: 3.20 kg
No Tag: 2.82 kg
Pink Tag: 2.83 kg
Future Red Tag: 2.00 kg

Yellow Tag and White Tag joined the gang on Thursday.

The five Black Bear cubs are doing well at the Center; they continue to eat three times a day and are increasingly energetic and playful with one another. Brie reports that cub #18-0383, the newest cub admitted, has been a little more lethargic than the other cubs; he may just be settling in and adjusting to his new siblings, but the cub will have blood drawn later this week for another analysis.

Since nighttime temperatures are forecasted to stay well above freezing, the cubs were moved in their Zinger crates to the outdoor Metal Cage Complex. This building has a variety of small enclosures [some metal, some plastic] and typically is an additional raptor housing area. Since no raptors are currently housed in this space, the cubs were moved so that they can hear and smell the outdoors, while still remaining in a somewhat limited space. They should be large enough to move to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure in May.



Here’s a glimpse into the playtime of four growing Black Bear cubs …