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Virginia's black bear cubs are starving

O the three species of bears found in North America, the brown bear, the grizzly bear and the black bear, Virginia is home to only one, the black bear.
O the three species of bears found in North America, the brown bear, the grizzly bear and the black bear, Virginia is home to only one, the black bear.
wikipedia.org.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia has taken in almost a dozen starving and emaciated black bear cubs this spring, according to a report on NBC12 News on Thursday. The cubs taken in by the Wildlife center should weigh about 100 pounds, but most of them have weighed far less than the ideal weight needed to survive.

Two of nearly a dozen bear cubs taken in by the Wildlife Center in 2014.
Wildlife Center of Virginia

Dr. Dave McRuer, the veterinary director of the wildlife center said, "This is the worst year that I've witnessed here at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, and I've been here for eight years now." The cubs being taken in are yearlings, born last spring, and should weigh almost 100 pounds. Some of the cubs they are seeing only weigh 15-30 pounds.

McRuer says the bear cubs taken in so far this year are drastically underweight and terribly dehydrated. The reason for this is the poor acorn crop last fall. Acorns are a major source of food for bears, and the youngsters, having used up their fat stores during winter hibernation, woke up hungry, but there was little for them to eat.

The recovery process at the Wildlife Center, located in Waynesboro, Virginia, is a hands-on effort. When the starving cubs are first brought to the center, they are examined by a veterinary team. Fluids, as well as vitamins and anti-parasitic medications are given.

The cubs are kept in a holding room where they can be taken care of by the team. A special highly digestible meal is fed in small portions multiple times of day at first, along with fluids to reverse the dehydration. About a week is needed to ensure the cubs are eating and beginning to gain weight.

The second step for recovering yearlings is the move to the center's outdoor Large Mammal Isolation facility. In this facility, the bears are still continually monitored for weight gain, eating habits and fluid intake. The bears are still fed a specialized diet for thin/emaciated animals.

The Wildlife Center has a two acre natural habitat where the young bears can recover safely before being released back into the wild. The center relies entirely on donations from the public, and also accepts donations of materials, supplies, foods and medicines to help in treating the wildlife in their care. To help out, the public can contact the Wildlife Center at 540-942-9453 or at wildlife@wildlifecenter.org.