On June 6, the Wildlife Center admitted two orphaned cubs from Amherst County – Black Bear cubs #18-1315 and #18-1316.
In past years, a private property owner in Amherst County had bears visiting his bird feeders. After consulting with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), the homeowner was advised to remove the bird feeders. In Virginia, it is illegal – and dangerous – to feed Black Bears intentionally or unintentionally. The homeowner did not remove the bird feeders as advised, and early on the morning of June 5, a sow came to the feeders with her two cubs. In an attempt to haze the bear, the homeowner tried to shoot her with rubber buckshot – a technique sometimes used to discourage bears from returning to a property once the food source is removed. Unfortunately, the homeowner somehow mistakenly used regular buckshot instead of rubber buckshot, and the sow was killed.
This tragedy is a sad reminder of why homeowners are often encouraged to remove birdfeeders, especially between April and November. Free, easy food will always be appealing to bears, and they don't know that the seed is not meant for them. Even if the homeowner used the rubber buckshot as a hazing method, it would have been ineffective if he continued to put out the bird feeders every day. Advice on how to co-exist with bears is to try and prevent these types of unnecessary occurrences. Learn more about what it means to be Bear Aware.
The homeowner was able to round up the cubs; a DGIF Bear Biologist and a Conservation Police Officer arrived at the scene that evening, and the cubs were transported to the Wildlife Center the following morning.
The veterinary team examined the two cubs – both males - when they arrived at the Center. Both cubs are bright and in good body condition, each weighing 5.2 kgs.
Cub #18-1315 cub has a small laceration on the front right paw pad, which was sutured closed during the exam. This cub was tagged as Double Yellow.
Cub #18-1316 was extremely feisty and agitated when separated from his sibling during the exam. The cub made attempts to escape from the Zinger crate by clawing at the front of the cage; this caused him to fray several claws on his front paws. Dr. Monica cleaned the claws and trimmed away the frayed nails to prevent further injury. This cub was tagged Double Orange.
The cubs will be housed together in half of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, allowing them to see and smell the other cubs, though they will remain separate from the other eight cubs for now.