Black Bear cubs of 2020

Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Separated from mothers
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

In early 2020, the Wildlife Center began admitting this year's bear cubs from several locations throughout Virginia. This year, the Center admitted an unusually high number of infant cubs; between late January and mid-February, seven Black Bear cubs were admitted. These infants ranged from two- to four-weeks-old at admission.

Thanks to the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, three of the seven cubs were able to be fostered onto wild bear mothers. Each of the three cubs [#20-0064, #20-0084, and #20-0105] were matched and placed with separate bear families in the wild. Due to the number of cubs admitted this year, and a very warm, early spring, the biologists were unable to find appropriate matches for the remaining four. 

The young bears will be cared for by the Wildlife Center until next spring, at the time when they would begin naturally dispersing from their mothers. The 2020 cubs will be released in the spring of 2021. 

To limit human interaction, only a few staff care for the bear cubs. Depending on their age and condition when they arrive, cubs may live in a Zinger crate, in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, or in the Center’s Black Bear Complex. The Center has some set weight guidelines that help determine when cubs are ready to move to their next stage of housing; usually cubs move to the Large Mammal enclosure when they are more than 3.0 kg [typically in May, though this year's cohort is moving much earlier!] and are large enough to move to the Black Bear Complex when they are more than 10 kg [typically in July]. Cubs also must be weaned from formula before they are moved to the Black Bear Complex, where they have a half-acre of forest to explore.

When introduced to other bears, each cub has a temporary colored tag placed in its ear. These tags will be removed prior to release and will be replaced with permanent green ear tags from the Virginia Department of Inland Fisheries. The temporary colored tags allow the Center staff to monitor and identify the cubs. The green "release" tags identify them as rehabilitated bear cubs.

The 2020 bear cubs include:

#20-0106 (female): Double Pink Tag
#20-0107 (male): Yellow Tag
#20-0108 (female): White Tag
#20-0109 (male): Orange Tag

#20-0384 (female): No Tag
#20-0468 (female): (former) Pink Tag, currently without tag
#20-0469 (female): Green Tag
#20-0470 (female): Red Tag

#20-0589 (female): Double White Tags
#20-0590 (male): Double Yellow Tags

#20-0646 (male): Red/Green Tags
#20-0647 (female): Pink/White Tags

#20-0698 (female): Double Green Tags
#20-0965 (male): Right green/Left white  
#20-0966 (male): Right white/Left yellow 
#20-0967 (female): Right Pink/ Left yellow
#20-1118 (male): Green/Pink Tags
#20-1694 (male): Double Orange Tags
#20-1808 (female): Yellow/Orange Tags

Frequently Asked Questions: Black Bear Cub Rehabilitation

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May 19, 2021

Watch as the Cubs of 2020 take their first steps back into the wild in more than a year!


May 6, 2021

On Friday, May 7, the Wildlife Center released the last of the 2020 Black Bears! Orange/Yellow Tags, Yellow/Pink Tags, and Red Tag were darted, anesthetized, examined, weighed, ear-tagged, and loaded for release. Final weights were: 

Orange/Yellow: 44.50 kg 
Yellow/Pink: 31 kg 
Red: 34.90 kg 

A biologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources took the three bears to a safe, bear-friendly release location. The entire veterinary team is overjoyed to say goodbye to the "class of 2020" bears! 

May 4, 2021

During this past weekend, the rehabilitation team was able to successfully trap and move two Black Bears from the Complex into the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, to prepare the bears for release. Orange/Yellow Tags and Red Tag were successfully moved; Yellow/Pink Tags remained elusive and appeared not to show an overwhelming interest in the baited live trap. The team said the bear was seen several times just lounging in the bear yard, sunning herself on a pile of rocks. Finally, on Tuesday, May 4, she was trapped and moved. 

The rehabilitation team called the Department of Wildlife Resources, and the last of the three bears of 2020 will be picked up for release on Thursday, May 6. 

April 30, 2021

The veterinarians and rehabilitators have been working hard during the past couple of days to prepare more bears for release. An ideal release scenario involves luring bears into one of the transition areas, spaces where the bears can be safely darted. While the transition areas are still fairly large, all trees are wrapped to prevent climbing, and these areas are more ideally suited for darting the bears. This year, unfortunately, the team has found that due to tree growth and regular wear-and-tear on the complex, several wily bears have been able to climb and leap over the transition-area fencing, back into the main bear yards. The remaining bears have also been increasingly wary of the number of humans in their space, and are often reluctant to even shift into one of the transition areas. 

The team decided that the best solution to this issue was to attempt to live-trap the bears in the complex and then quickly move the bear to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. At that point, a DWR biologist can be notified to pick up the bears the following morning, and the veterinary team is able to quickly and safely dart the bears for their normal pre-release examination and ear-tagging. 

Throughout the day on April 28, the veterinary team was able to trap and move four more Black Bears from the Black Bear Complex to the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure in preparation for release. Double GreenTags [from yard #1], Pink Tag, White/Yellow Tag, and Green Tag were all successfully moved, and on Thursday, April 29, were picked up for release by a DWR biologist. 



Pink Tag: 37.2 kg
White/Yellow Tag: 52.8 kg
Green Tag: 30.9 kg
Double Green [20-3590]: 24.50 kg 

This leaves three bears in the Black Bear Complex: Red Tag, Yellow/Pink Tags, and Orange/Yellow Tags. The staff will continue to live-trap the three bears during the next few days; when all three are successfully trapped and moved to the Large Mammal enclosure, a DWR biologist will pick them up for release next week. 

April 28, 2021

On April 27, four more Black Bears were successfully darted, sedated, and loaded for release! Double Orange, Green/Pink, White/Green, and Double Green Tags were picked up by a DWR biologist for release. 




Final weights were: 

Double Orange: 42.60 kg
Green/Pink: 50.60 kg
Double Green: 41.30 kg
White/Green: 42.50 kg 

The rehabilitation team attempted to lure the next set of bears to be released into a transition yard on the afternoon of April 27, but the bears were wary and could not be contained. More attempts were made in the early morning of April 28, but again, no bears were willing to be lured into the transition area where they could safely be darted. The team decided to postpone today's release and attempt to get the next set of bears ready for Thursday, April 29. 

April 21, 2021

The rehabilitation staff are working with biologists from the Department of Wildlife Resources to plan the rest of the bear releases for the remaining 2020 bears housed in the Bear Complex. There will be three separate release days next week -- April 27, 28, and 29. Each day, four bears will be sedated, worked up, tagged, and released. 

April 14, 2021

On April 14, five more Black Bears were successfully darted, sedated, and loaded for release! No Tag, Red/Green Tags, and White/Pink Tags were released together by one DWR biologist; Double Yellow Tags and Double White Tags were released by another biologist.







Final weights were: 

No Tag: 34.30 kg
Red/Green: 44.70 kg
White/Pink: 45.70 kg
Double Yellow: 64.50 kg
Double White: 39.30 kg

Today's releases went well -- all bear yearlings successfully ran off out of sight!

Double White/Double Yellow Release: 

Release of No Tag, Red/Green Tags, White/Pink Tags: 

Yesterday's releases went well -- Kelsey shared these photos of the Double Pink and White Tag release: 


More releases will take place at the end of April. 

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. 


April 8, 2021

Bear releases start next week!

On April 13, several biologists with the Department of Wildlife Resources will come to the Center to pick up six Black Bear yearlings. The bears will be released in groups of twos or threes in several different locations. The following day, on April 14, a DWR biologist will return for two more bears. 

On release days, the bears will all be darted, sedated, examined, ear-tagged (all with green ear tags, one in each ear), weighed, and loaded into a transport trap. The rehabilitation staff plan to attend a couple of the releases next week. 

The remainder of the bears in the Black Bear Complex will be released  later in April. 

Unfortunately, both Bear Critter Cams stopped working suddenly on Monday afternoon; an inspection of the Critter Cam equipment revealed some mouse-chewed wires that affect the transmission of the cameras. The staff are working on replacing these wires, though we may not be able to have them fixed prior to April 13.  We hope that the wires will be repaired in time to see the remaining 13 Black Bear yearlings in their final week at the Center. 

March 22, 2021

Wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey has been in touch with biologists with the Department of Wildlife Resources to start planning ahead for next month's Black Bear releases!

Later this month, DWR will drop off large culvert traps at the Center so that these can be in place in preparation for next month's release plan. At this point, the first round of bear releases will take place on April 13 and 14, with additional releases taking place during the week of April 19. The 21 bears in the Bear Complex will be split into multiple smaller groups, for releases in various areas of Virginia. 

January 18, 2021

On January 18, the bear cubs of 2020 celebrated a very special event -- their collective birthdays! 

While we don't know each of their exact days of birth, we do know that in Virginia, Black Bear sows typically give birth in mid- to late January. According to a study by Kim Echols, in Virginia, Black Bear sows have been documented giving birth from December 19 to February 22 – with a median date of January 17. While the Center occasionally admits a very young cub in January or February, typically the cubs begin to arrive in April and May, when they are starting to emerge from dens with their mothers. 





To celebrate, wildlife rehabilitators Katie and Lydia dropped some special treats in the Black Bear Complex -- birthday cakes stuffed full of nuts, salmon, and apples. Critter Cam watchers had a front-row seat when the cubs began to dig in!



December 29, 2020

Double Orange Tags has been recovering in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure after his surgery on Christmas Eve. Each day, the staff check the bear to ensure his sutures are intact, and to monitor for any redness or swelling. The bear is receiving a course of stool thinners to help ease the passage of his meals as he continues to heal. A fecal examination over the weekend did not reveal any parasites. 

Since the bear was in-hand during darting and during his medical procedure, the veterinary team was able to weigh the bear cub; he weighed in at a hefty 30 kg! 

The team will continue to carefully monitor the bear's injury. If all heals well, the team expects the bear to be in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure for the next seven to 10 days. 

December 24, 2020

After many hours staking out Double Orange Tags from the Black Bear Complex tower, Dr. Karra was able to dart and sedate the injured cub. The team confirmed that the bear did have a rectal prolapse, which was able to be cleaned and treated. The cub will live in the Center's Large Mammal Isolation enclosure during treatment for the next few weeks. 

December 24, 2020

On the morning of December 23, Critter Cam viewers noticed that one of the Black Bears, Double Orange Tags, had an issue with his hind end; the veterinary team closely scrutinized the bear on camera and decided to try to trap and dart the bear for an examination. It appeared as though the bear has a rectal prolapse; this issue is not common though the Center staff did see this issue in 2016 with two bear cubs. Typically, prolapses can occur from prolonged straining [constipation or diarrhea], parasites, or a congenital issue.

The bear was safely contained in yard #2 of the Black Bear Complex, and a live trap was set, baited with fried chicken. Unfortunately, the bear did not take the bait or come out of the tree during the day. Wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey disarmed the trap for the night.

The trap was reset on Christmas Eve morning, and Dr. Karra, the Center's interim veterinary director, came in to watch and wait for the cub in one of the towers in the Black Bear Complex. Dr. Karra is prepared to dart the cub if the live trap option doesn't work.  

September 9, 2020

On September 8, Black Bear cubs #20-0965 (White/Green Tags) and #20-0967 (Yellow/Pink Tags) were moved to the Black Bear Complex. According to wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey, "Initially, they were put in transition yard #2, but when they were fully awake, the gates were opened and they were immediately integrated with their anxiously-awaiting 17 'siblings'. Darting was successful with no hiccups and the two bears are healthy. White/Green Tags weighed 25.1kg and Yellow/Pink Tags weighed 21.2kg … they are significantly larger than they were a month and a half ago."

September 2, 2020

The two Black Bear cubs that have been in the Center's Large Mammal Isolation enclosure during the past few weeks are doing well and are ready to move to the Black Bear Complex! The veterinary team plans on moving the two cubs during the week of September 7. 

July 30, 2020

Early on the morning of July 30, the veterinary team moved Black Bear #20-1808 to the Black Bear Complex. The bear was sedated first and tagged with yellow and orange ear tags for identification purposes. The cub recovered well in a transition area and then was allowed full access to the two yards. 

Black Bear cubs Yellow/Pink and Green/White Tags will remain in the Center's Large Mammal Isolation enclosure a little longer, just so they can put on additional weight before moving to the yard again. 

July 22, 2020

On the afternoon of July 21, the Center staff discovered that four Black Bear cubs had escaped out of the yards. Two cubs, Yellow Tag and White Tag, were within the perimeter fence. Two other cubs, Yellow/Pink Tags and Green White Tags, had escaped the entire Black Bear Complex and were near the building. 

The team spent the next four hours containing the bears. In the end, Yellow Tag put himself back in the yard, and wildlife rehabilitator Maz was able to contain White Tag and also put her back in the yard with the other cubs. The two outside of the complex were darted by Dr. Karra; Green/White Tags was darted fairly quickly and contained. Yellow/Pink was darted but managed to evade the team until she climbed a tree and fell asleep. Dr. Karra staked out the bear for several hours until she was able to gently guide the bear back into the complex, where the cub was darted again. 

Yellow/Pink and Green/White were in fine condition though had lost a little weight; both of these cubs were the smallest of the bunch that just moved to the Black Bear Complex last week. The team decided to keep them in the Center's Large Mammal enclosure for the time being until the Black Bear complex can be safely re-inspected. Wildlife rehabilitators Kelsey and Shannon were able to identify and temporarily fix a couple of possible escape routes; they also found that the hotwires on the Bear Complex were reading at a slightly lower level, likely due to some vegetation which needs to be trimmed.

The team will work on securing the complex this week and will wait for the two smallest escapees to grow larger and put on weight before moving back. 

July 15, 2020

On July 14, the veterinarians and rehabilitators moved six cubs from the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure to the Black Bear Complex. The cubs, along with the cubs already in the Complex, have access to both yards #2 and #3. 

Kelsey reports that there were, "no issues, everyone is perfect and fat and plump and cute and perfect."

#20-1118 – retagged as Green/Pink, 12.9 kg
#20-0967 – retagged as Yellow/Pink, 10.16 kg
#20-0966 – retagged as Yellow/White, 11.07 kg
#20-0965 – retagged as White/Green, 9.0 kg
#20-0589 – Double White, 13.0kg
#20-0384 – No Tag, previously the smallest cub, now 9.89 kg


The newest arrival, cub #20-1808, is currently still in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. 

June 30, 2020

On the morning of June 30, Drs. Karra and Sarah and rehabilitators Kelsey and Shannon were able to move three Black Bear cubs from the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure to the transition area of yard #2 in the Black Bear Complex. Kelsey reports: 

"We moved three bears to transition yard #2 today, and will open up the gate so they can have free access to bear yard #2 later today. As soon as everyone is settled, probably tomorrow, we will open the gate between BY2 and BY3 so all of the bears can mingle.

"Bears moved:

#20-1694, Double Orange. 9.5kg.
#20-0698, Double Green. 10.5kg.
#20-0590, Double Yellow. 13.4kg.  We found multiple old puncture wounds on left side of his face, so we shaved his face and cleaned it with betadine. We applied anti-fly strike spray and silver Allu spray (so the bear’s left side of his face is silver, it’s fine!). Gave one-time dose of antibiotics.


"Bears remaining in LMI 2:
#20-0589, Double White. 11.5kg. We found that two nails were broken, with one being severe enough we want to treat and monitor her. She’s back on antibiotics, and the broken nails have silver Allu spray on them.
#20-0384, No Tag. Did not weigh today, still too small to move.

"All bears were re-tagged so these identifiers are up to date.

"LMI 1 bears are staying put since they are still small. We did not weigh since Blue Team weighed them Friday. [they are in the 6 - 8 kg range]. 

"Later today or tomorrow we will live-trap #20-1808 -- the female hit-by-car bear in the Bear Pen -- and move her to LMI 2 to integrate with other cubs. We'll also be able to observe more closely how she’s doing before deciding when to move her to the Bear Yards."

This means there are currently a total of 12 bears in the Black Bear Complex, and, with the move of the newest cub, a total of seven bears in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. Watch for them all on Critter Cam! 

June 17, 2020

The Black Bear cubs of 2020 are all doing well -- the nine cubs currently in the Black Bear Complex are exploring, climbing trees, and generally seem to be enjoying their new space. At this point, all nine cubs are in Bear Yard #3; the Center needs to make a few repairs to a gate in yard #2 before the cubs can have access to that area, since they've proven to the rehabilitation staff that they can slip through an opening in the gate. 

Since the cubs were sedated prior to the move last week, all were able to be re-ear-tagged as needed, which means all are sporting proper identification tags again: 

  • 20-0647 Left white/right pink
  • 20- 0646 Left red/right green
  • 20-0470 Right ear red tag
  • 20-0469 Right ear green tag
  • 20-0468 Right ear pink tag
  • 20-0106 Double pink
  • 20-0109 Left ear orange tag
  • 20-0107 Left ear yellow tag
  • 20-0108 Right ear white tag




Another group of cubs in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure will likely be moved next week; while a couple may be more than 10 kg by the end of this week, the staff have decided to sedate the cubs prior to moving, so that they can safely examine and attempt to re-tag the cubs prior to moving. It's likely the cubs will be weighed on Wednesday, June 24 and then moved the following day. 

In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye on Critter Cam #3! The feed changes between the cameras on each side of the Large Mammal enclosure, and also sometimes streams the cam located above Bear Yard #3 in the complex. The newest cub -- #20-1694 -- was moved to the right side of the Large Mammal enclosure on June 16. 

June 11, 2020

On June 10, rehabilitators Kelsey and Shannon weighed many of the Black Bear cubs in the Center's Large Mammal Isolation  (LMI) enclosure. Several were more than 10 kg -- meaning that they could move to the Black Bear Complex! Cub #20-0106 [Double Pink Tag] -- a cub admitted at the end of February -- weighed in at 10.4 kg. The team re-ear-tagged the bear, since she had lost her tags at one point, and went ahead and moved her to the Bear Complex in yard #3. 

Five other bears were also ready to move -- and will be moved on Thursday, June 11 to yard #3. The cubs include: 

  • previously Pink Tag (now no Tags)
  • preciously Left Red/Right Green Tags (now Right Green Tag)
  • Red Tag
  • Green Tag
  • White Tag/Pink Tag


That will leave four bears in the left side of Large Mammal Isolation, and four bear cubs in the right side. 

LMI  Left: 

  • Pink/Yellow Tags
  • previously Yellow/White Tags (now no tags) 
  • Green/Pink Tags
  • previously White/Green Tags, (now Left Ear Hole/Right Green Tag)


LMI Right: 

  • No Tag 
  • previously Double White Tags (now Left Ear Hole/Right White)
  • Double Green
  • previously Double Yellow (now Right Yellow Tag)


June 3, 2020

Last week, wildlife rehabilitators Kelsey and Shannon separated the remaining 14 bear cubs in the Center's Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, with the goal of keeping the smallest cubs away from the larger cubs. Based on weights and behavior, the current split includes: 

The littles: (housed in the left side of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure) 

  • Pink/Yellow Tags
  • previously Yellow/White Tags (now no tags) 
  • Green/Pink Tags
  • previously White/Green Tags, (now Left Ear Hole/Right Green Tag)

The larger cubs:  (housed in the right side of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure) 

  • Double Pink (currently actually has no ear tags)
  • No Tag – a smaller cub, but placed here due to her rough-housing nature. 
  • previously Double White Tags (now Left Ear Hole/Right White)
  • Double Green
  • previously Pink Tag, (now no tags)  
  • previously Double Yellow (now Right Yellow Tag)
  • previously Left Red/Right Green (now Right Green Tag) 
  • Red Tag 
  • Green Tag 
  • White Tag/Pink Tag


The three largest cubs are currently in yard #2 of the Black Bear Complex after they were moved last week.



Rather than waiting on groups of cubs to reach 10 kg, Kelsey and Shannon will be keeping an eye on bear weights and as each bear hits the 10 kg benchmark, the cub will be moved to the complex with the others. They will weigh former Double Pink Tags and former Pink Tag on June 4, since these cubs are the largest of the group, and will hopefully move them to the transition area of yard #2. 

May 26, 2020

The Wildlife Center staff are deeply saddened to report that Black Bear cub #20-0833 [Double Orange Tags] died on May 26. The bear appeared to be sleeping on the ground, though when other cubs moved the cub, it became clear that something was not quite right. Rehabilitators Kelsey and Shannon quickly went to check on the situation and found Double Orange, deceased. 

Dr. Karra examined the cub and took a series of radiographs and found that the bear had multiple skull fractures. The staff suspect that the bear cub may have fallen from the top of the enclosure. The cubs generally are able to safely roughhouse with one another, but this incident is a reminder that accidents can happen in captivity, even though the staff work hard to make the entire space safe for all cubs. 

The rehabilitation staff will be assessing each cub individually and will likely be separating the remaining 14 cubs in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure into two groups, based on size and weight. 

May 25, 2020

Three of the 18 Black Bear cubs have been successfully moved to the Black Bear Complex! On Monday, May 25, wildlife rehabilitators Kelsey and Shannon moved Yellow Tag, White Tag, and Orange Tag to the transition area of yard #2. Kelsey said that when the bears were introduced to this new space, they briefly sniffed the air, then noticed their grapes (always a favorite treat) in their food pile, and promptly started eating. The bears will adjust to this new area for the next couple of days before they have access to the main yard -- where they'll be on Critter Cam


The weights of the cubs as of May 25 were as follows: 

Yellow Tag – 14.7kg
White Tag – 10.7kg
Orange Tag – 12.8kg

The other 15 cubs (newest cub #20-1118 joined the others on May 23) will have the run of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure until they are large enough to move to the Bear Complex. A number of cubs have lost one or both ear tags, which may make identifying them on Critter Cam a challenge; fortunately the rehabilitation staff know the cubs well enough to continue identifying them by size and features: 

Altered tags/identification: 

20-0106- was Double Pink Tags, (now No Tags) 
20-0468- was Right Pink Tag, (now No Tags)
20-0590- was Double Yellow Tags, (now right Yellow) (left ear tag has been pulled out)
20-0646- was left Red/right Green Tags (now Right Green) (left ear tag has been pulled out)
20-0833- was Double Orange Tags, both ear tags have been pulled out

No change to tags: 

20-0384- Female, No Tag (still the smallest cub)
20-0469- Female, right Green Tag
20-0470- Female, right Red Tag
20-0589- Female, Double White Tags
20-0647- Female, left White/right Pink Tags
20-0698- Female, Double Green Tags
20-0965- Male, left White/right Green Tags
20-0966- Male, left Yellow/right White Tags
20-0967- Female, left Yellow/right Pink Tags
20-1118- Male, left Green/right Pink Tags

In general, most cubs are doing well; they are eating, growing, and playing! The rehabilitation staff do have some concerns about the behavior of #20-0833; this cub is acting much more friendly toward the staff as compared to the other cubs currently in care. While the staff do expect that the cubs will bond with their human caregivers to a certain extent, this cub's behavior is notably different and is something that the staff will continue to assess. 

May 19, 2020

With 17 Black Bear cubs in the Center's Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, the rehabilitation staff have their hands full trying to manage and feed this "sloth" of bear cubs! In general, the cubs are doing well and the staff are careful to monitor feeding times to ensure that the smaller cubs are getting their portion of formula. During the past weekend, the staff decided to separate the larger three cubs -- Yellow Tag, White Tag, and Orange Tag -- into the left side of the Large Mammal enclosure. These three cubs are older and larger than the others, and the staff plan to move them to the Black Bear Complex during the week of May 25. 

On Monday, the staff noted that Double White Tag had torn a nail on one of her front paws; she was taken into the hospital for a quick assessment and treatment and then returned to the enclosure with the other bears. 

May 8, 2020

The Black Bear cubs in the Large Mammal enclosure have been doing well in the past week. On Thursday, wildlife rehabilitators Kelsey and Shannon got their intense workout of the week when they weighed all 13 cubs! All of the cubs except two gained weight; Double Green lost a small amount of weight, and Double White was static in weight. These two cubs will be weighed again on Monday. The largest of the bunch, Yellow Tag, weighed in at 11.6 kg! 

Pink Tag (#20-0468) had her ear tag pulled out sometime during this past week; the staff will decide if they want to re-tag her when it's time to move her to the Black Bear Complex. 

At this point, with 13 cubs and the possibility of receiving more, the rehabilitation staff plan on utilizing both yard #2 and yard #3 in the Black Bear Complex. In years past, the staff have felt comfortable with 10 cubs in a yard, but feel that more than that starts to overcrowd the bears. The rehab staff will keep a close eye on all the cubs during the next few weeks; since there are several larger cubs in the group, there may be two moving days this year, rather than waiting for all cubs to weigh more than 10.0 kgs for the move. 

April 28, 2020

All of the cubs at the Center are doing well - all 12 of them are out and about in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. It takes quite a bit of formula to keep 12 bear cubs happy -- but fortunately due to a recent flash fundraiser on the Critter Cam moderated discussion, the rehabilitation staff have been able to buy plenty of specialized bear formula for this growing group. 

The cubs currently eat this much -- twice a day! 

For those wondering what a hungry cub sounds like, wildlife rehabilitation intern recently took this audio clip of one of the cubs clamoring for food

On April 27, wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey reported that Double Pink Tag -- cub #20-0106 -- is doing well and her ears are much improved. 

April 23, 2020

On the night of April 22, Dr. Karra emailed an update on Double Pink Tag -- who had been intermittently quiet and lethargic this week: 

"I know there have been lots of people wanting an update on our Black Bear cub #20-0106, since she was reported to be lethargic and have some GI signs on Sunday night … so here it is! Rehab reported her lethargy to wax and wane the last few days, so we decided to bring her down to the clinic for a full assessment under anesthesia today.

"Her entire physical exam was within normal limits, aside from her ear tag sites, both of which were crusty, matted, and when cleaned had a significant amount of purulent (pus) debris in them. She was very feisty and euhydrated. A full neuro exam was performed, which was found to be unremarkable. Both of her ears were fully clipped in order to prevent hair from getting into the sites. Both sites were cleaned, and topical antibiotics applied, as well as bitter apple spray to the rest of the ear, to hopefully deter the other bears from suckling on her ears and further contaminating the area. Radiographs were also performed while we had her down (since during her last official vet exam she was the size of a potato), which were within normal limits for a bear of her age and size. Blood was collected for a complete blood count and chemistry. Both of these are pending, but I’ll be sure to let you know if there is anything worrisome.

"Rehab will continue to clean and monitor the ear tag sites twice daily, and she will continue on her course of antibiotics for this infection. Rehab reported she was doing well this evening, showing no signs of lethargy."

The rehabilitation staff will also continue to apply bitter apple to the cub's ears, to deter the other cubs from suckling on them while they are out together in the Large Mammal enclosure. 

The two newest cubs -- Double White and Double Yellow -- will be introduced to the other eight later today since nearly all of their ticks have fallen off. 

April 21, 2020

The eight Black Bear cubs are getting big! The older/larger three (Yellow Tag, White Tag, and Orange Tag) in particular are getting to be a handful for the rehabilitation staff. Fortunately, a kind supporter sent four pairs of overalls to keep the staff protected from tiny bear paws with very long claws!  



The smallest cub, No Tag, has been exploring the Large Mammal enclosure during the day with the seven other cubs and returned to her Zinger crate at night. She's drinking her formula well from a bottle and is currently 1.82 kg. 

The next-to-smallest cub -- Double Pink Tag -- was notably quieter on Sunday, April 19, and had diarrhea and an upset stomach. The staff examined her noted that her ears looked a little irritated and crusty. They decided to remove her tags on Monday, April 20 and started her on a course of antibiotics as well as subcutaneous fluids. Kelsey and Shannon report that she cub was bright and alert on Monday evening, and again on Tuesday morning - though became more lethargic after she finished her bottle. The staff will continue to monitor the cub and may bring her into the hospital later this week for blood work if needed. 

April 9, 2020

The four Black Bear cubs are doing well in the Center's Large Mammal enclosure -- all are eating well and gaining weight quickly! 

#20-0106 (female) No Tag: 3.5 kg
#20-0107 (male) Yellow Tag: 6.9 kg
#20-0108 (female) White Tag: 4.2 kg
#20-0109 (male) Orange Tag: 4.8 kg


The three older cubs (Yellow, White, and Orange Tags) are now bottle-fed only once a day (in the morning); they are eating their mush bowls well and are slowly being introduced to more grown-up foods - a wider variety of veggies and fruits. No Tag, who is estimated to be a couple of weeks younger than the other three, is also putting on weight and is currently being bottle-fed twice a day. 

The cubs can be seen on Critter Cam, and often spend time romping and playing, and taking naps in their hammock. 

On Tuesday, April 7, the cubs received a new roommate -- Black Bear cub #20-0384!

March 30, 2020

The four Black Bear cubs are settling in well to their new playground in the Center's Large Mammal Isolation enclosure! The cubs are being bottle-fed multiple times a day and are also receiving "mush bowls" - bowls of soft veggies, fruits, and dog food covered in a thickened bear formula. The three larger cubs are bottle-fed twice a day, and the youngest cub [No Tag] is bottle-fed three times a day. 

Wildlife rehabilitator Katie reported that No Tag ate her first mush bowl on Saturday evening and took her first "big girl" steps on Sunday, March 29. No Tag has been primarily living in a Zinger crate in the Large Mammal enclosure, since she's smaller than the others, but No Tag is able to play and cuddle with the other cubs multiple times a day as the rehabilitation staff care for the cubs.  



On the morning of March 30, the rehabilitation staff found that No Tag weighed 2.8 kg, just 200 grams shy of the 3.0 kg benchmark in place for her to roam the Large Mammal enclosure freely. For today, the rehabilitation staff decided to leave No Tag out with the other cubs; they'll monitor on camera and will place No Tag back in the Zinger crate for the night, just to ensure her safety. 

March 25, 2020

The Black Bear cubs are doing well and gaining weight: 

#20-0106 (female) No Tag: 2.46 kg 
#20-0107 (male) Yellow Tag: 5.05 kg
#20-0108 (female) White Tag: 3.85 kg 
#20-0109 (male) Orange Tag: 4.30 kg 

Soon, Critter Cam watchers can see the bears for themselves! After Bobcat #19-2408 was picked up for release on Wednesday, the rehabilitation staff began carefully cleaning the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure to get it ready for the four bear cubs. The current plan is to move the four cubs into the right side of the Large Mammal enclosure; the three larger cubs will have full access to that space. Cub #20-0106, who is younger and smaller than the triplet cubs, will need to remain in a Zinger crate until she grows more. Stay tuned to see them on Critter Cam #3!

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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