On May 18, the Wildlife Center admitted a young Black Bear cub from Smyth County. The bear was reportedly found by a young man who was hiking earlier this week; the teenager picked up the cub and took it home. After a couple of days, the family called the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries because the bear was “mean”.
On admission, Dr. Monica examined the male cub and found him to be in good shape, though he is smaller than the other seven cubs currently residing at the Center. The bear had skin scrapings, blood work, and radiographs done; all were within normal limits. The cub had diarrhea, which could be from an inappropriate diet; the Center does not have records of what the cub was fed when he was kept for two days. The cub weighed 2.5 kg.
The wildlife rehabilitation team offered the cub electrolytes and placed him in a Zinger crate in the vestibule of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. This housing allows the cub to see and smell the other cubs, but wildlife rehabilitator Brie wants to keep this bear separate until the rehab team knows he’s eating well and his diarrhea improves.
This bear’s story serves as a good reminder to call for help first if you see a lone bear cub. Never pick up a cub and take it home to be a pet; treating a bear cub as a pet can ruin its chances of being able to be released to the wild. At the Center, only a very few people interact with the bear cubs; while the cubs may get used to those people, the cubs are never treated as pets. Too much interaction can rob a wild animal of a healthy life back in the wild.