Black Bear yearling #20-0249

March 22, 2020
Rescue Location
Buckingham County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Possible toxicosis
Former Patient
Patient photo

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On the afternoon of March 22, the Wildlife Center admitted another male yearling Black Bear. A park ranger found the bear at James River State Park in Buckingham County; the bear was lying in a ditch and appeared to be extremely weak. A DGIF biologist responded to the scene to capture the bear and transport him to the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Dr. Claire, the Center’s veterinary intern, examined the yearling when he arrived; as she started her examination, the bear started convulsing. Dr. Claire was able to quickly administer medication, and the convulsions quickly stopped. The bear was extremely weak and thin, weighing only 11 kg. The bear’s vital signs were also very weak.

After sedating and intubating the bear, Dr. Clare was able to take blood samples and radiographs, as well as a skin scraping to check for mange mites. No significant injuries were found. While the bear was sedated, Dr. Claire placed an IV catheter to more effectively deliver a constant flow of fluids to the dehydrated bear.

The team is unsure why the bear was so badly debilitated; with no obvious signs of external trauma, and no overt signs of infectious disease, toxicosis is a plausible cause of admission. Without additional testing, it’s difficult to know what type and how much of a particular toxin the bear possibly ingested; rodenticides, pesticides, mycotoxins (moldy feed, garbage), and other types of baits and poisons are all possibilities.

The bear was placed in a Zinger crate in the Center’s isolation room for the night. Dr. Claire kept the bear sedated and placed an e-collar on the yearling to protect the IV catheter. The bear’s prognosis was grave, though he did make it through the night. The bear was reportedly very dull on the morning of March 24, though drank voraciously, according to Dr. Karra. The team will continue to medicate the bear for tremors.

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Patient Updates

Dr. Karra checked on Black Bear yearling #20-0249 on the morning of March 26; sadly, she found that the yearling was having full-body seizures. Given the lack of improvement in the bear’s condition and the progressive neurological signs, Dr. Karra made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the bear.