In April 2014, the Wildlife Center began admitting this year’s bear cubs from locations throughout Virginia. These bears were born in January or February of 2014. Some cubs were suspected to be orphaned; several of these cubs were found and kept by people, until the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries confiscated the young bears.
Due to the number of cubs, as well as a distinct size difference, the cubs were split into two family groups, each with a female yearling Black Bear. The yearling in each new family will act as a “surrogate” to the bear cubs – providing them with an older, protective role model. Although the yearlings are not yet of breeding age, the maternal instincts of these female yearlings kick in after they are introduced to their young charges. The surrogates/role models, who have spent a year in the wild, help teach the cubs how to be bears and help reinforce a wariness of humans. This technique was used by the Wildlife Center in 2012, with success.
Once the bear cubs are weaned from formula, they will be moved to the Center’s new Black Bear Complex, in their family groups. In the Bear Complex, the bears will have plenty of room to continuing growing, away from humans.
When introduced to other bears, each cub has a temporary colored ear tag placed in its left ear. These tags will be removed prior to release and will be replaced with more permanent green ear tags from the Virginia Department of Inland Fisheries. The temporary colored tags allow the staff to monitor and identify the cubs via Critter Cam.
The 2014 bear cubs include: