Black Bear cubs of 2022

Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Separated from mothers
Prognosis: 
Good
Patient Status: 
Current Patient

In April 2022, the Wildlife Center began admitting this year's bear cubs from several locations throughout Virginia. The young bears will be cared for by the Wildlife Center until spring 2023, at the time when they would begin naturally dispersing from their mothers. 

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 indoors, 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 into the Large Mammal enclosure when they are more than 3.0 kg [typically in May] 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.

Before cubs ultimately move to the Black Bear Complex, they are ear-tagged with a temporary colored tag so that the Center staff can monitor and identify the cubs from a distance.  Staff prefer to ear tag cubs when they are around 5.0 kgs, which means smaller cubs admitted earlier in the spring typically don't receive their tag until they are anesthetized for the move to the Bear Complex in the mid-summer.  For smaller cubs admitted during the spring months, the staff clip a small amount of fur on each bear and then paint the bare spot so that the bears still have a temporary identification system. As larger cubs are admitted in late spring/early summer, they may be ear-tagged at admission before joining the other bear cubs. 

Ultimately, most colored ear tags are removed prior to release and are replaced with permanent green ear tags from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, which identify the bears as rehabilitated cubs.

The 2022 bear cubs include:

Black Bear cub #22-0462, male [Double Yellow Tags]
Black Bear cub #22-0685, male [Blue Tag]
Black Bear cub #22-1087, female 
Black Bear cub #22-1376, male [Double White Tags]
Black Bear cub #22-1448, male [Double Orange tags] 

Frequently Asked Questions: Black Bear Cub Rehabilitation

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Updates

November 5, 2022

During the past two months, the Black Bear cubs have become much more active and have foraged for food more frequently throughout the day. The reason for this increase in activity and appetite is "hyperphagia", a process that Black Bears go through in fall. During hyperphagia, Black Bears will excessively eat to build up the fat reserves they need to make it through winter torpor (similar to hibernation); in the wild, a Black Bear can gain between two to four pounds a day during fall months. At the Center, the rehab team is currently delivering 120 pounds of food a day to the bear cubs, split into two large meals. About 44 pounds of those meals are proteins; at this time of year, much of that protein comes from acorns and other nuts.

The increased activity due to hyperphagia makes fall one of the best times to see Black Bears in the wild. Similarly, this is also one of the best times to view the cubs on cam. Tune in to Critter Cam #2 throughout the day to look for the Center's bear cubs as they forage for food. The bear cubs currently have access to both yard #2 and yard #3, so they may be out of view at times.   

Check out some of the staff photos from this week!

All five cubs foraging for food in the morning.

Black Bear Cubs Double Yellow and White Tag enjoying some potatoes. 

Black Bear cub White Tag on the search for more food.

August 30, 2022

During the past week, the rehab staff determined that Blue Tag, Double White Tags, and the untagged female cub were within the target weight range and body condition to be transitioned from the Center’s Large Mammal enclosure into the Black Bear Complex. Daily checks of the interior and exterior Bear Complex perimeter fences haven’t revealed any further issues, and Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor Kelsey reports that both hotwires are consistently reading adequate voltage. While the untagged female cub remains slightly lower in weight compared to Blue Tag and Double White Tags, the trio were ready to move on August 30.

Blue Tag was able to be lured into a Zinger crate first. After a quick visual examination, staff moved the crate to the main Bear Complex with Double Yellow and Double Orange Tags and opened the crate door, giving Blue Tag full access to the open space. Staff report that he was quickly greeted by Double Yellow.

Double White Tags and the untagged female were sedated before being moved so the veterinary staff could perform a more in-depth physical examination on each cub, and apply colored ear tags on the female for identification purposes. Double White's healed leg was re-examined by Dr. Karra, who found no abnormalities or further issues. The untagged female cub – now Double Pink Tags – weighed in at 12 kg. An accurate weight on Double White was more difficult to obtain – the cub weighed more than the scale could register! Kelsey estimates Double White to weigh approximately 18 kg.

Double Pink Tags -- the formerly untagged female:

Double White Tags:

Double Pink and Double White were moved to the transition yard adjacent to the main bear complex, where they will remain until they are fully awake; the staff will check in on the bear cubs later in the afternoon and may open the adjoining gate to the main yard at that time. Once opened, all five of the bears will have a half-acre to explore, and will no doubt be busy in the coming days!

August 22, 2022

All five Black Bear cubs have been doing well at the Center for the past couple of weeks. The cubs are still split into two small groups based on size: Yellow Tags and Orange Tags are currently in yard #2 of the Black Bear Complex, while Blue Tag, Double White Tags, and the untagged female cub are in the Center’s Large Mammal enclosure.

In years past, the rehabilitation staff have used the 10-kilogram mark for moving cubs to the Black Bear Complex. Based on some challenges this year after the initial move, the staff decided to set a target of 15 kg to move the three remaining cubs in the LMI. Since the small female cub is small in stature, this weight target should ensure that she remains within the Complex.

On August 19, the rehab staff weighed the female cub and found that she weighed 10.5 kg. Double Blue and Double White Tags have not been weighed recently, though are easily more than 15 kg. At this point, the trio will remain together in the LMI until the female cub is ready to move.

The cubs in the LMI have all been weaned from their mush bowls, and are eating a diet of nuts, veggies, fruits, insects, and seeds; the rehabilitation staff deliver two meals a day.

The two cubs in the Black Bear Complex have been seen eating and hanging out together; they appear to be getting along well.

Double Yellow Tags in the Black Bear Complex: 

 

Double White Tags in the LMI: 

August 11, 2022

On August 9, the veterinary team was able to sedate and anesthetize Black Bear #22-1448 [Double Orange tags], who has been housed in the Center's Bear Pens this summer, so that he could be moved to the Black Bear Complex. Dr. Karra reports that the bear is in good condition, and weighed in at 17 kg.

 

  

  

The bear was placed in the transition area of yard #2 to recover from sedation. This area also served as a separated introduction area between Double Orange and Double Yellow (who has the run of yard #2) since it’s been several weeks since they last interacted. The following day, the rehabilitation staff opened the gate to allow Double Orange into the half-acre enclosure with Double Yellow; the staff reported that, so far, Double Orange has been evading Double Yellow. 

The other three bears [Double Blue tags -- who lost one ear tag, Double White tags, and the untagged female] will remain in the Center’s Large Mammal enclosure until the smallest female cub is large enough to move to the Bear Complex. The female cub, #22-1087, weighed 6.52 kg on July 18. 

August 2, 2022

After Double Blue tags escaped into the perimeter of the Black Bear Complex on July 23, the staff carefully checked the complex to determine how the cub had gotten out. The staff realized that the hotwire that runs around the interior fences of each yard was not functioning properly; Dr. Karra was able to find the issue and repair it. During the next week, the rehab staff tested the hotwire fence each day to determine if it was functioning properly – at this point, they’ve concluded that the interior hotwire is working, though the hotwire around the exterior perimeter fence is still reading low.

The staff have postponed moving more bears [Double Orange and Double Blue] up into Bear Yard #2 until an outside contractor can look at the fence and make any necessary repairs. Once the exterior hotwire is in working order again, Double Orange will be moved, and Double Blue should also be able to be returned to the complex.

Double White Tags and the small untagged female cub will likely remain in the Large Mammal enclosure for a few more weeks while they grow and gain weight.

In the meantime, Double Yellow has had bear yard #2 to himself; he appears to be relaxed and is behaving normally. Critter Cam viewers have spotted him drinking and foraging for food.

 

July 23, 2022

On the morning of July 23, the rehabilitation team discovered that Black Bear cub #22-0685 (Double Blue tags) managed to escape the bear yard into the complex perimeter. Rehabilitation staff were able to safely capture the cub and placed him in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure with cub #22-1087 [female] and Double White tags. 

July 21, 2022

On July 21, the veterinary team started moving the cubs of 2022 to the Black Bear Complex! After a week of cleaning up the bear yard and making final checks and fixes, the staff were ready to move the largest of the cubs to yard #2 in the complex. One finishing touch that was added to the yard was a very large firehose hammock that was created by Center volunteer J.J. and some friends – the hammock should be plenty large enough to hold all five cubs if they so choose!

 

The veterinary team sedated cubs #22-0462 and #22-0685 so that each cub could receive his colored ear tags for identification purposes. Both bears were in good body condition and were moved to the transition area of yard #2 successfully before their sedation was reversed and they started to wake up.

Black Bear cub #22-0462 – now Double Yellow tags – weighed in at 21 kg.

Black Bear cub #22-0685 – now Double Blue tags – weighed 12 kgs.

The cubs will remain in the transition yard until they are fully awake; the staff will check in the bear cubs later in the afternoon and may open the adjoining gate to the main yard at that time.

 

Since Double Orange tags [cub #22-1448] already has his ear tags in, the cub won’t need to be sedated to be moved. The rehabilitation staff will plan on shifting the cub into a Zinger crate on July 22 and will transport the crate to the Bear Complex. Since it’s been weeks since this cub was with the others, the staff will plan to place Double Orange tags in the transition area once the other two bears are in the main part of the yard. After a few days of an introduction through the fence, the door will be opened and the cubs will have access to the full area together.

Cub #22-1087 [female] and Double White tags will remain in the Large Mammal isolation enclosure for now. The small female cub weighed 6.52 kg on July 18; typically staff like to have cubs weigh at least 10 kg to move to the Bear Complex. Double White has been walking and climbing well on his healed leg; Dr. Karra would like the bear to have some additional time on both sides of the Large Mammal enclosure before moving to the half-acre yard.

July 5, 2022

During the past few days, Black Bear cub #22-1376 [Double White Tags] has been doing well in the connecting chute of the Large Mammal enclosure. The cub is able to walk and climb well with his healed leg. While the team initially wanted to cage rest him for a few more days, the staff decided to shuffle the cubs around to accommodate the increased energy levels of the growing cubs.

On July 5, the rehabilitation team moved Black Bear cub #22-1376 and #22-1087 [the small female cub] to the left side of the Large Mammal enclosure, while cubs #22-0462 and #22-0685 remained in the right side of the Large Mammal enclosure. This will allow the staff to reduce contact with the large two cubs, particularly #22-0462, who is growing increasingly large and feisty.

Cub weights as of July 1 are:

Black Bear cub #22-0462: 16.90 kg
Black Bear cub #22-0685: 9.17 kg
Black Bear cub #22-1087 [female]: 5.3 kg
Black Bear cub #22-1376 [Double White Tags]: 7.7 kg

 

 

 

Double Orange Tags remains in the Center’s Bear Pens, and is doing well. The largest cubs may start moving to the Black Bear Complex as early as mid-July, after a behavioral assessment of Black Bear yearling #22-1286.

June 17, 2022

The three Black Bear cubs currently housed in the right side of the Large Mammal enclosure have been doing well during the past week. The cubs are quite active and Critter Cam viewers have been able to watch these three cubs play and explore together. 

As of June 13, weights were: 

Black Bear cub #22-0462: 11.2 kg
Black Bear cub #22-0685: 6.0 kg
Black Bear cub #22-1087: 3.62 kg

Black Bear cub #22-1448 [Double Orange Tags] remains in the Center's bear pens, and the rehabilitation staff report that he has been calm and eating well. It's likely that he will be moved to the Black Bear Complex in early July. The staff are currently working with contractors to do some maintenance in the complex, including some plumbing repairs and rehanging the shade cloth privacy fence on the perimeter. The staff are also currently moving and assessing Critter Cams; at this point, it appears as though one of the two complex cams may be out of commission and needs to be replaced. 

June 8, 2022

During this past weekend, the rehabilitation staff decided to move Black Bear #22-0462 to the right side of the LMI, to be with the two smaller cubs in care. Cub #0462 had been housed with cub #22-1448 [Double Orange Tags], though the newcomer had continued to show no desire to interact with the cub, but did exhibit some pacing behavior. The three cubs in Large Mammal started interacting and playing at once.

On June 7, the wildlife rehabilitation team weighed Double Orange tags and found that he had lost a kilogram of weight; his appetite has not seemed particularly strong at the Center. The team decided to move the bear to the Center’s Bear Pens; while this is a smaller enclosure, it’s also quieter, with fewer distractions. The rehabilitators set up a trail cam in the Bear Pen to monitor the bear’s behavior overnight.

When the team reviewed the footage on the morning of June 8, they found that the cub had very quickly eaten most of his meal when he was let out of his crate in the bear pen. Footage throughout the evening showed that he appeared to be calmly exploring the space. At this point, the team will keep monitoring the bear’s behavior and will plan to keep him in this location until he moves to the Black Bear Complex, likely later this month.

The three other cubs in the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure are doing well and continue to eat and gain weight.

June 2, 2022

During the past week, the cubs in the Center’s LMI enclosure have continued to gain weight. As of June 2, weights were:

Black Bear cub #22-0462: 9.0 kg
Black Bear cub #22-0685: 5.25 kg
Black Bear cub #22-1087: 3.0 kg

The smallest cub, female #22-1087, is now large enough to live in one of the main Large Mammal Isolation enclosures.

The Center also admitted two more cubs in the past few days – Black Bear cub #22-1448 [Double Orange] is a healthy male cub that is well-matched in size for Black Bear cub #22-0462. These two will live together in the left side of the Large Mammal enclosure.  The two smaller cubs -- #0685 and #1087 – will live in the right side of the Large Mammal enclosure. This way, the cubs can continue to see and smell each other, but they are separated for now due to the large size difference.

Another recent cub admission, Black Bear cub #22-1376, has a fractured humerus and will need to remain in a Zinger crate immediately after his June 2 surgery.

May 26, 2022

The three Black Bear cubs at the Wildlife Center are doing well – all three are eating and gaining weight. Black Bear cub #22-0685 [shaved shoulder], the second male cub admitted this year, is splitting his time between his two playmates – at night, he is placed into the chute with cub #22-1087 (the small female), and during the day, he romps and plays with the largest cub #22-0462.

Weight as of Tuesday, May 24 are:

Black Bear cub #22-0462: 7.20 kg
Black Bear cub #22-0685: 3.90 kg
Black Bear cub #22-1087: 2.20 kg

The smallest cub will be able to spend time in the larger enclosure with the other cubs once she’s gained more weight. 

May 17, 2022

The first two Black Bear cubs of 2022 are doing well -- both are eating and gaining weight! With consistently warmer temperatures, both bears were moved to the Center's Large Mammal enclosure on May 11. They were transported in the Center's brand-new Polaris!

Black Bear cub #22-0462, the first cub admitted this season, was placed directly in the left side of the 16' square enclosure, so that he can run, play, and climb. Black Bear cub #22-0685, the much smaller second cub, was placed in the connecting chute [measuring 4' x 8'] between the two sides of the enclosure. Due to the cub's small size, the rehabilitation staff do not yet want to allow him full access to the left side of LMI, though he can see, smell, and interact with the other cub through the connecting door. As of May 16, cub #0462 weighed 5.95 kg; cub #0685 weighed 2.8 kg. 

On May 16, a third cub (#22-1087) was admitted to the Wildlife Center; this new female cub is a good size match for the small male cub. Both will be housed in the chute of the LMI until they gain more weight. Both are currently being fed three times a day.  Until the cubs are large enough to receive identifying colored ear tags, the staff shaved a small patch of fur on each cub to identify them at a glance. Cub #0685, the male, has a patch of fur shaved on his left shoulder.  New cub #1087, the female, has a shaved stripe on her back. 

Tune in to Cub Cam to watch these growing bears! At this point, cub #22-0462 will be the main cub on cam until the two smaller bears can join him full-time. Cam viewers may be able to catch a glimpse of #0685 during the day; since he is nearly large enough to be in the main Large Mammal enclosure, the rehabilitation staff are letting him out into the space during the day, but enclosing him in the more protected chute (with cub #1087) at night.  The larger cub is fed a mush bowl once a day [in the morning] and is also currently eating a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and proteins; the two smaller cubs are bottle-fed three times a day. 

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