Black Bear cubs #20-0105 & #20-0106 [Double Pink Tags]

Admission Date: 
February 16, 2020
Release Date: 
April 13, 2021
Location of Rescue: 
Smyth County, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On the morning of February 16, a private citizen in Smyth County contacted the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries when two infant Black Bear cubs were discovered in a box on the private citizen’s porch. There was no information with the cubs; no one knows how or when they were found. A conservation officer with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries picked up the cubs and they were transported to the Wildlife Center later that same evening.

Dr. Claire, the Center’s veterinary intern, examined the two cubs when they arrived and found that they were both dehydrated, but in fairly good body condition. The male cub, admitted as #20-0105, had several small abrasions on the bottom of his hind feet, and a pinpoint superficial wound on top of his head. The female cub, #20-0106, was healthy.

The rehabilitation staff settled the two siblings into an incubator and calculated the amount of specialized bear formula needed at each feeding, spread out over 24 hours.

DGIF biologist will be checking on the dens of two radio-collared females this week in hopes of finding a suitable wild foster mother for these young cubs. Hopefully, another successful match can be found, similar to the two other fostered cubs the Center cared for within the past few weeks.

Your donation will help provide 'round-the-clock care to these two infant Black Bear cubs, and specialized care to more than 3,000 wild animals that the Center will help this year. 


April 13, 2021

On Sunday, April 11, the rehabilitation staff were able to contain the four Black Bear yearlings that are slated for Tuesday's release in the transition yards of the Black Bear Complex. Yellow Tag and Orange Tag were enclosed in one transition yard and slated for release together; Double Pink Tags and White Tag enclosed in the other transition yard. These were the first four bears admitted in 2020! 

On the morning of Tuesday, April 13, the veterinary and rehabilitation teams were able to dart and sedate all four bears successfully. Each bear was examined and weighed, had a skin scrape taken and tested quickly in the Center's lab, had blood drawn, and was tagged with a green ear tag in each ear. 





Ready to go! 

Final weights of the four bears: 

Double Pink Tags: 39.5 kg
Yellow Tag: 68 kg
White Tag: 40 kg
Orange Tag: 55 kg (estimated)

Proud bear mamas, saying goodbye after 14 months of caring for these bears every day! 

Shannon and Double Pink Tags

Lydia and Orange Tag: 

Lydia and White Tag: 

Kelsey and Yellow Tag: 

Then ... and now! 

On Wednesday, April 14, six more Black Bear yearlings will be released. 


March 19, 2020

The four Black Bear cubs at the Wildlife Center are doing well and growing quickly! The cubs are currently being bottle-fed and are also starting to eat food out of a bowl; they also have supervised play sessions in their sheltered outdoor space. Before the cubs were moved to this area, the rehabilitation staff took a few video clips, which we compiled here: 



Wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey notes that the three older cubs are already much more coordinated in their movements! The younger cub will no doubt catch up soon. 



DGIF biologists report that they have continued den checks, but no suitable matches have been found. Given the very warm temperatures, it's  likely that it's too late to find wild foster mothers for these four. The rehabilitation staff are prepared to care for the cubs for the long-haul -- until spring 2021. 

The three older cubs are now large enough to receive ear tags, which are used for identification purposes while they are cared for at the Center. This week, the rehabilitation and veterinary staff are applying ear tags: 

#20-0107 (male): Yellow Tag

#20-0109 (male): Orange Tag

#20-0108 (female): White Tag

Wildlife rehabilitator Shannon shared the inside scoop on the goodwill and intent behind these color selections: 

"Since all of these bear cubs came in very young, and therefore are more at risk for habituation, we wanted to give them certain tag colors that past bears patients had -- bear cubs who excelled in showing appropriate behaviors. In the past few years, bears with a yellow ear tag have been some of the largest bears in the group, and have proven to be more of the strong but silent types. They’re relatively unassuming but great playmates and protectors of their siblings. #20-0107 is already the largest bear, and is not as mischievous as his brother, Orange Tag. 

"Orange Tag was chosen when we were hoping that all of these bears would be fostered onto a wild sow, and we needed to be able to designate between the two males. Orange nail polish is bright and easily identifiable, and so we chose the orange ear tag since he was already marked with orange polish. Past bears with orange tags have been quite playful and mischievous at times, and this bear is definitely living up to that reputation! 

"Lastly, we chose white tag because the past couple of white tag bears have been fierce around human caretakers, but played well with their bear siblings. Overall, we knew that they had a great chance of success post-release. Our little 2020 White Tag might be small, but her personality is not!"

March 9, 2020

The four Black Bear cubs are doing well at the Wildlife Center; the rehabilitation staff have been bottle-feeding the cubs a specialized bear cub formula three times a day, and each cub is gaining weight. As of March 9:

#20-0106: (female): 1.4 kg

#20-0107: (male): 2.74 kg

#20-0108: (female): 2.24 kg

#20-0109: ("orange" male): 2.50 kg 

Last week, the staff received a report from the DGIF Black Bear biologist who said den checks are still underway, but no suitable matches have been found for these four cubs. With warm temperatures arriving this week, wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey began setting up an outdoor space for the cubs, so they can hear and smell outdoor sounds and scents. The cubs will live in Zinger crates together in the “metals complex”, which has been cleared out to be a future Black Bear cub housing and playground area. The staff will bring the cubs in at night if temperatures get too cold, though hope to mostly keep the cubs outdoors.



February 27, 2020

VDGIF biologists reported back on February 26 with news of a partially successful fostering attempt!

The two biologists quietly approached an active den site where a sow was known to have cubs of her own, and placed Black Bear cub #20-0105 outside of the den. Shortly after, the sow heard the cub’s cries and readily picked the young male up and placed him with her other cubs inside the den. To avoid disturbing the sow with any further activity, the biologists left the den site, but plan on returning to the to the area in a few weeks to assess the situation. The staff are delighted with this excellent news!

Unfortunately, no suitable den sites for the remaining four cubs were found. The biologists report that the other dens that were checked were deemed inappropriate because the sows either had no cubs at the time, or had too many cubs. 

The remaining four cubs were transferred back to the Wildlife Center on the evening of February 26. VGDIF biologists plan to assess several other dens between February 27 and 29; one den in particular is known to have a radio-collared sow the biologists plan to immobilize to perform a health check and change her collar. The sow is predicted to have cubs this year, and the biologists are hoping she will be a match. If dens are found that are deemed acceptable, they will decide how many and which cubs to take on either Friday, February 28 or Monday, March 2.

As Wildlife Center rehabilitator Kelsey states, “We are all keeping our fingers crossed that one of these dens and sows will be an acceptable match for at least one of the cubs – fostering one is better than fostering none!”

We hope to hear more news in the coming days. 


Click the video below to see these cubs being fed and cared for by rehabilitators Kelsey and Shannon.






February 21, 2020

On the morning of February 21, Center staff received word that biologists with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries found appropriate potential foster mothers for the five Black Bear cubs currently in care. A biologist picked up all five cubs; Center staff are waiting for more details and (hopefully) successful outcomes.

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