Black Bear cub #18-0933

Admission Date: 
May 18, 2018
Location of Rescue: 
Smyth County, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Inappropriate possession
Prognosis: 
Fair
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

On May 18, the Wildlife Center admitted a young Black Bear cub from Smyth County. The bear was reportedly found by a young man who was hiking earlier this week; the teenager picked up the cub and took it home. After a couple of days, the family called the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries because the bear was “mean”.

On admission, Dr. Monica examined the male cub and found him to be in good shape, though he is smaller than the other seven cubs currently residing at the Center. The bear had skin scrapings, blood work, and radiographs done; all were within normal limits. The cub had diarrhea, which could be from an inappropriate diet; the Center does not have records of what the cub was fed when he was kept for two days. The cub weighed 2.5 kg.

The wildlife rehabilitation team offered the cub electrolytes and placed him in a Zinger crate in the vestibule of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. This housing allows the cub to see and smell the other cubs, but wildlife rehabilitator Brie wants to keep this bear separate until the rehab team knows he’s eating well and his diarrhea improves. 

This bear’s story serves as a good reminder to call for help first if you see a lone bear cub. Never pick up a cub and take it home to be a pet; treating a bear cub as a pet can ruin its chances of being able to be released to the wild. At the Center, only a very few people interact with the bear cubs; while the cubs may get used to those people, the cubs are never treated as pets. Too much interaction can rob a wild animal of a healthy life back in the wild.  

Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this young Black Bear cub  … and all of the patients admitted in 2018. Please help! 

Updates

May 28, 2018

Last week, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologists received word that Black Bear cub #18-0933 had been kept for a longer period of time than originally reported; the family had the cub for at least a week, not two days. During that period, the cub bit multiple people, which had to be reported to the health department.

Bears are not considered a high-risk rabies species in Virginia, but any wild mammal can contract the deadly virus. All bites are reportable and each health department must consider the particular situation and make decisions about testing the animal and recommending post-exposure vaccines to those who were bitten. The incubation period of the rabies virus in bears is unknown.

In this case, the people who initially captured the bear in early May were contacted; they did not want the bear tested [which would require the cub to be euthanized]. The health department ordered an initial quarantine period for the bear at the Center so that the staff can carefully observe the cub for any neurologic signs. Dr. Ernesto, the Center’s hospital director, will continue conversations with the health department this week after the department's final decision. The bear will remain in the Zinger crate for the immediate future, even if he is large enough to go into the main Large Mammal enclosure with the other cubs.  

This serves as an important reminder to never pick up a wild animal without proper safety equipment. If you’re unsure if a wild animal needs assistance, call a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.