It’s time to look back on 2018! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2018 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.
I can’t believe this is my third “year-end” blog post as a WCV employee. It’s so bizarre to think that I was just supposed to be here for one year. It’s funny how things work out, huh?
2018 has been the year that I’ve really settled into my position as the Veterinary Research Fellow. The increased incidence of mange in Black Bears in the mid-Atlantic United States had really helped shape the focus of my fellowship, albeit at the mercy of its host. If you read my blog post from last year, I referenced patient #17-1298 … a bear we treated for mange using a new treatment. Well, that bear remains a constant source of inspiration for me and for the future of treating mange in bears. In 2018, Brie and I learned that our case report on this patient was accepted for publication in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases! You can view our abstract here.
Also, you may remember from patient #17-1298’s story that she was fitted with a GPS collar before being released in September 2017, so we were able to keep up with her location throughout the winter and spring. This past May, Brie and I accompanied Fred Frenzel, a biologist for VDGIF, and hung several trail cameras in the area “our bear” was exploring. Fred checked those cameras weekly and my heart stopped on the day his name came across the screen of my cell phone. “We got her,” I heard him say, “and she looks amazing!” Fred emailed me the pictures of this bear, almost a full year after we admitted her and administered this new treatment, and you can see her transformation for yourself! Tears still come to my eyes when I think about her. Receiving the pictures of this bear was by far my favorite memory from 2018.
There have been other “mangy” bears since patient #17-1298 that have benefitted from the same treatment, which is so exciting! This year, we’ve taken our investigation of this new drug one step further. The cubs of 2018 were lucky enough to be volunteered as “study participants” and (not-so-willingly) contributed weekly blood samples for ten weeks so we can better understand how this drug works in a bear’s body … let me tell you how fun it was to take blood from a 50-pound bear cub! Now all the blood samples are at a veterinary pharmacology lab where they are being analyzed. The information we gather from this project has the potential to help so many bears! And for me, that’s what it’s all about … or is that the hokey pokey?
Lastly, I’m sure all of you reading this post are well aware of the damage the Wildlife Center sustained from the ice storm that hit Waynesboro in November. Though that was such a frightening experience, the positive attitudes and perseverance exhibited by my colleagues will be a lasting memory for me from 2018. All staff members, students, volunteers, supporters, and outside rehabbers (shout out to Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary and Blue Ridge Wildlife Center) really stepped up in various ways to ensure all personnel were safe, patients were treated, and our facility was taken care of. It was a great reminder of how lucky I am to work with such a great group of people!
Happy Holidays, y’all!