It’s time to look back on 2020! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2020 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.
This year we have seen an increase in our patient load, especially with our Black Bears. Currently, we have 21 cubs, which has far surpassed any other year and exceeded everyone’s expectations.
We admitted our first cub in early February, and from there, we had a feeling it would be a big year. Fortunately, we were able to foster out a few cubs to wild sows, but by the end of February, we knew that four cubs were here for the long haul. Since habituation is the largest concern with young bear cubs, we decided to keep the roster of caregivers very small until we felt comfortable the cubs were past the critical imprinting period. That meant that just two people were there to do ‘round-the-clock feedings – head rehabilitator Kelsey Pleasants and me. This was my first experience with such intense bear cub feedings … and it was worth every moment. During feedings, we give the cubs supervised –playtime – some of my favorite experiences in rehab. We were able to watch the cubs open their eyes and take their first wobbly steps until, eventually, they were coordinated enough to cause their usual bear mayhem.
As rehabilitators, we try our best to maintain a level of detachment from our patients. They are wild and should stay wild, but with the bears, we do function as surrogate parents, and with that comes a level of protectiveness. During this close-knit period, Kelsey and I both found ourselves feeling like protective “mama bears” over these cubs. We can only hope all the time and care we put into them will pay off when they are released next spring!
-- Shannon, Wildlife Rehabilitator