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