Black Bear cub #16-1874

Admission Date: 
August 16, 2016
Release Date: 
April 13, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Floyd County, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Illegally kept as pet
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On August 16, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries picked up a Black Bear cub wearing a dog collar in Floyd County, Virginia. The bear was extremely tame and readily approached people. Based on the bear's behavior, Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki suspects this cub was kept as an illegal pet for at least several months.

The bear was transported to the Wildlife Center and examined by the Center's veterinary staff. The male bear is healthy, but his behavior is very abnormal and concerning. Dr. Ernesto has been carefully observing the cub via an internal camera during the past few weeks to objectively record how the bear has been spending his time -- eating, playing, displaying stereotypic behavior (pacing, rocking, and self-mutilation including nursing on himself). First, the bear's behavior was recorded when the cub was housed alone; then the behaviors were recorded after the bear was introduced to four bear cubs in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. At this point, the bear's behavior is still very abnormal, and the cub hasn't been seen interacting normally with any other cubs.

On Thursday, September 15, the bear cub will be moved to the Center's Black Bear Complex, where he'll have more room to explore, and more cubs to interact with. The staff will continue to monitor the bear's behavior this fall, though at this point, strongly suspect that the bear will be unable to be released. Based on the bear's current behavior and attitude, placement at an educational facility may not be an option. Sadly, because someone selfishly kept this bear as a pet, this bear will likely never be a happy, healthy wild bear.

If anyone has any information about this bear or any other illegally held/captive wildlife, please call the VDGIF Crimeline at 1-800-237-5712 or


April 13, 2017

On the morning of April 13, six bears were successfully darted and loaded into VDGIF transport traps for release!

The first group of bears included Yellow/Green Tags [#16-1874], Red/Green Tags [#16-2441], and No Tags [#16-0598]. The second release group included Double Red Tags [#17-1441], Pink Tag {#16-1654], and Pink/White Tags [#16-1813]. The bears were re-tagged with Double Green ear tags prior to release.

A third biologist who was coming to pick up another three bears was called away on an emergency; the release of Yellow Tag, Pink/Green Tags, and Double Pink Tags will be rescheduled.

The remaining bears -- White Tag, Red Tag, Orange Tag, and Green Tag -- are being treated for their hair loss. So far, the bears have been negative for mange, but the veterinary team is treating them with an anti-parasitic just to be on the safe side.

View more release photos here: 

Releasing the Black Bears of 2016: Day #1


September 15, 2016

Five Black Bear cubs were successfully moved to the transition area of the Black Bear Complex today. Double Pink Tag [16-1713] was the first caught; she was brought into the Center's hospital for her six-week post-op radiographs. Drs. Peach and Ernesto said the healed elbow fracture looks "okay"; while it's not perfect, it does appear to be stable and well-healed at this point. The bear does have less range of motion in that limb, but at this point, the veterinarians don't believe it will hinder her.

Pink Tag [#16-1654] was caught next and was also brought into the Center's hospital for radiographs of her healed jaw. The vets were very pleased with the results.

Orange Tag was then trapped and moved directly to the Bear Complex; Green Tag followed, and lastly, the team moved Black Bear cub #16-1874, the cub that was kept illegally as a pet for some length of time. The five bears will remain in the transition area for the next couple of days so that they can get familiar with their bear cub neighbors before becoming one big group of 10 bears. The transition area door will be opened on Saturday, September 17.

Pink Tag explores:


In the transition area [Orange Tag peeking above the others]

The bears in the yard were curious: 



September 14, 2016

Thursday, September 15 is moving day for several bear cubs! In the morning, the rehabilitation team will set two large live traps to attempt to catch the cubs in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. Most will move to the Black Bear Complex after an examination from Drs. Ernesto and Peach. On deck to move:

Bear cub #16-1442 [Green Tag] -- recovered from a rectal prolapse and subsequent surgery in August
Bear cub #16-1443 [Orange Tag] -- recovered from a rectal prolapse
Bear cub #16-1654 [Pink Tag] -- recovered from a broken jaw 
Bear cub #16-1713 [Double Pink Tag] -- recovered from a broken elbow 
Bear cub #16-1874 [Green/Yellow Tags] -- behavioral issues, kept illegally.

Bear cub #16-1813 will stay behind to be a friend for Bear cub #16-2023, who will be moved to the small connecting chute of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure after the other bears are moved.