Black Bear yearling #17-1767

July 12, 2017
October 20, 2017
Rescue Location
Madison County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Suspected hit by vehicle
Former Patient
Patient photo

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On July 12, a female Black Bear yearling was found on the side of the road in Madison County, Virginia. An officer with the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries responded to the scene and was able to capture the bear and transport her to the Wildlife Center.

At admission, the bear was in respiratory distress; Dr. Peach, one of the Center’s veterinarians, ran an oxygen line into the crate to begin oxygen therapy. No improvement was noted, so Dr. Peach sedated the bear and began her physical examination. Dr. Peach was able to palpate a fracture near the bear’s left elbow; radiographs revealed a hairline fracture of the bear’s left ulna and a fracture of the left humerus, as well as evidence of pulmonary contusions. The bear also had a thin hair coat and some mild lesions; a skin scraping confirmed the presence of mange mites. She weighed 19.2 kg.

The bear’s leg was carefully splinted before she was set up in a zinger crate in the Center’s holding room with supplemental oxygen; the following morning, the bear’s respiratory distress was about the same, but by Thursday, July 13, Dr. Ernesto noted that the bear was much more feisty.

The yearling’s particular fractures will require a specialized fixation, due to the nature and location of the fractures. Dr. Peach consulted with Dr. Alex Padron, a surgery resident at the Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates in Richmond, who worked on two Black Bears last year for the Wildlife Center. As long as the bear’s condition is stable, Center staff will plan to transport the yearling to the Richmond area for this specialized surgery.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this injured Black Bear … and to the 2,500 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year.

Patient Updates

On Monday, October 16, Dr. Peach and Brie set the large VDGIF culvert trap to catch Black Bear yearling #17-1767 for release. Despite the tasty bait of fried chicken, the bear was not motivated to check out the trap until Brie added a slathering of peanut butter. On the morning of Friday, October 20, the bear took the bait and was successfully trapped!

A VDGIF biologist came to the Center to pick up the bear for release on the afternoon of October 20.

On September 21, Black Bear yearling #17-1767 was moved to the Center’s Black Bear Complex, to yard #2. Dr. Peach was pleased to see how the bear was using her healed leg in the large, half-acre space.

After several weeks of observation, the team decided that the yearling was ready to head back to the wild. Jaime Sajecki, the VDGIF Black Bear Project Leader, will be dropping off a bear trap at the Center during the week of October 16. The staff will receive training on how to set-up the bear trap; this will be an opportunity for the staff to get used to working the larger, sturdy VDGIF bear traps, which could be helpful in preparing future large bears for release, when darting the bears is difficult.

On September 8, Dr. Peach darted and anesthetized Black Bear yearling #17-1767 so that she could examine and radiograph the yearling’s fractured leg. Today marks eight weeks since the bear’s surgery with Dr. Padron.

Dr. Peach found that the bear’s fractured leg has healed well; the fracture line is still visible, but a callus formation is present. The bear currently has a slightly decreased range of motion in his left elbow compared to his right, but nothing that is of concern right now. The bear is in great condition and weighed in at 27.4 kg.

The bear was moved to the right side of the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. This is a larger space than the bear has had access to during the healing period, and will allow the bear to stretch, walk, and climb in a controlled space before the yearling is moved to the Center’s Black Bear Complex for additional exercise.

Black Bear #17-1767 has been doing well in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure for the past week; the bear only has access to the chute that connects the two larger enclosures so that her movement is still limited on her healing leg. The staff check the bear each day; the yearling has been standing normally and bearing weight evenly on all four limbs. During the next month, the bear will remain in this area so that she continues to heal; radiographs are scheduled for September 8, which will be eight weeks after her surgery.

Black Bear #17-1767 has been healing well during the past week and is nearly at the two-week post-op mark. The bear has been eating well and bearing weight on all four legs equally. On July 26, the staff moved the yearling to the chute of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure; this will allow the bear a little more room than a zinger crate and will allow her to see and smell a more natural environment. The bear will need to remain in this small space to heal for several more weeks before she’s allowed to be more active in a larger space.

Black Bear #17-1767 has been healing well this week. Each day, the vet team checks on the bear to monitor her appetite, how much weight she’s bearing on her injured leg, and her general attitude. So far, the bear has shifted fairly easily between zinger crates in the holding room; this is the best way to ensure the bear gets a clean area each day. The yearling has been placing her weight on her injured leg for the past few days, and is eating well.

On the morning of July 14, Wildlife Center staff transported Black Bear yearling #17-1767 to the Virginia Veterinary Surgical Associates in Richmond. In addition to placing screws in the bear’s elbow to fixate the fracture site, Dr. Padron inserted a metal plate on the bear’s ulna (the outermost of two bones in the forearm).

The procedure was completed without complication in roughly two hours, and the bear had several radiographs taken. After reviewing the radiographs, Dr. Padron determined that reinserting longer screws into the bear’s elbow would be the most effective long-term treatment for the fracture, and took the bear into surgery for a second time. The second surgery was a success, and the bear was transported back to the Wildlife Center after ensuring an uneventful recovery from anesthesia.

Throughout the weekend, the yearling remained in the Center’s indoor holding area. Veterinary staff have reported that the bear is recovering well, has a healthy appetite, and is beginning to show a bit of feistiness. On July 16, she was transitioned back to a normal diet of hard foods, allowing her daily pain medications to be administered orally.

For now, the bear will remain in the Center’s indoor holding area where veterinary staff will be able to asses her healing and recovery on a daily basis before determining the next step for this yearling.