The 2018 Black Bear cub season started on Friday, April 13 – when the first two cubs of the year were admitted!
A citizen in Nelson County saw the two cubs on Friday, April 6, and while he didn’t see signs of their mother, he knew it was best to leave the cubs alone and observe the situation. He saw the cubs four days later, and decided to put in a trail camera to check for signs of the sow. Footage didn’t show any adult bears, so the citizen called the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. Wildlife rehabilitator Brie went along with two DGIF biologists to pick up the cubs in Nelson County on the evening of April 12.
The following morning, a DGIF biologist attempted to foster the two cubs onto a wild sow. DGIF has had two successful fostering attempts so far this year; they are able to track denning sows through their ongoing radio-collaring project. Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki recently noted that it’s the time of year when sows and cubs are starting to emerge from dens; as they move more, the chances of successful fostering decrease dramatically. The attempt to foster these two cubs did not work; the sow was alert and moving out of the den and the biologist decided not to risk upsetting her with additional interaction.
The two cubs – both females – were admitted to the Wildlife Center in the afternoon. Drs. Ingrid, Peach, and veterinary technician intern Jenna examined the cubs and found them both to be healthy, though both were thin. Each bear cub was ear tagged for identification purposes: #18-0345 is now Green Tag and #18-0346 is Orange Tag. Green Tag weighed in at 1.95 kg and Orange Tag was 2.13 kg.
The cubs will be housed together in a large crate and the rehabilitation staff will bottle-feed the cubs three times a day. The cubs already show interest in their “mush bowl” – a bowl of soft food with thickened formula. The cubs will likely move in their crate to a secure outdoor enclosure next week, though will need to be at least 3.0 kg before they are able to move into the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure.