Black Bear yearling #17-0291

Admission Date: 
March 25, 2017
Location of Rescue: 
Augusta County, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Died March 30, 2017
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On March 25, a female Black Bear yearling was admitted to the Wildlife Center from Augusta County. The bear had been seen in a tree for multiple days; she was very thin and weak, and did not appear to be leaving the area. A biologist from the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries responded to the scene and was able to catch and transport the bear.

Dr. Ernesto, the Center's Hospital Director, examined the bear upon admission. The bear was severely dehydrated, and had an estimated body condition score of a 1/5. The bear was anesthetized for a full examination; no fractures were found, but Dr. Ernesto did note an abnormally slow heartbeat. He administered a dose of atropine. Blood work confirmed mild anemia. The bear weighed 10.3 kg.

The bear received fluids and was set up in the Center's Bear Pen. The staff will offer a supportive critical care diet; if the bear eats that well, the food will be gradually changed to a soft, regular bear meal.

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this Black Bear … and all of the patients admitted in 2017. Please help! 


March 31, 2017

Black Bear yearling #17-0291 was not eating much in the days following her admission; the staff also noted that the bear was unusually quiet. On March 30, the veterinary team decided to dart the bear to re-examine her. The team did a full work-up, including a physical examination, radiographs, and endoscopy.

On the endoscope examination, Dr. Ernesto noted that the bear had inflammation of the mouth, and severe irritation of the esophagus and stomach. Radiographs showed a small mass near the bear's heart, and changes in the bear's lungs were also noted. An esophageal tube was placed to provide nutritional support, and an IV catheter was placed to keep the bear hydrated.

Sadly, when Dr. Ernesto checked on the bear before he left for the night, he found that the bear had passed away. A necropsy revealed stomach and esophageal ulcers, congestion in the lungs, and a small hematoma in the heart. Changes were also noted in the spleen and gallbladder.