In April 2023, 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 2024, 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 2023 bear cubs include:
Black Bear cub #23-0529, female [one ear]
Black Bear cub #23-0681, female [Double Lavender]
Black Bear cub #23-0829, female [Double Blue]
Black Bear cub #23-1605, male [Double Orange]
Black Bear cub #23-2442, female [Double Green]