In the early afternoon on April 27, a railway conductor in Tazewell County saw a young bear cub near the bodies of a deceased sow and cub that had likely been hit by a train. Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources staff were alerted, and the cub was safely captured in a nearby creek after running away during the rescue attempt. The cub was transported to the Wildlife Center of Virginia later that same day.
On admission, the female cub was bright, alert, and mildly dehydrated with a body condition score of 2.5/5. Upon intake, she weighed 3.68 kg. A physical examination performed by Veterinary Intern Dr. Marit found a callused area over the bear’s left hind femur but did not reveal any other abnormalities. Radiographs showed a mildly displaced mid-shaft fracture on the left femur, and images confirmed callusing of the fracture. This callus, combined with observed mobility during rescue, suggests that the fracture is likely more than two weeks old, and was not sustained during the bear family’s train collision.
Skin scrapes show no signs of mites, and blood was drawn for a full analysis. In-house testing revealed a subclinical level of lead toxicosis (0.054 ppm) – a condition not commonly seen in Black Bear patients at the Center. While this level is considered to be relatively low, no amount of lead within the body is safe. Fluids, anti-parasitic, and pain medications were administered, and an oral chelation therapy course was started to remove the lead from the cub’s system.
For now, the cub will be cage-rested in the LMI enclosure chute with a Zinger crate. During the coming days, veterinary staff plan to perform additional physical exams and radiographs to assess her ability to use her left hind leg, and determine if surgical intervention is necessary.