Black Bear Cub

A black bear cub arrived at the Tufts University Wildlife Clinic on July 30th, after being hit by a truck in Conway, MA. Biologists at the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife service were notified by good samaritans who found the bear cub listless but alive on the side of the road. The biologists sedated the bear and transported her to the Wildlife Clinic for medical care.

On presentation, the bear cub was unconscious and bleeding from the mouth. She appeared to have a broken lower jaw, several deep lacerations on her tongue, a large laceration on her front right leg, and some hemorrhage into the white portion of her left eye. Her heartbeat was weak, but steady, and her lungs sounded very wet. In addition to the fractures and lacerations, the veterinary staff was concerned about the severity of head trauma and possible contusions on the lungs.

Radiographs were obtained and confirmed a fracture of the lower jaw and a fracture of the front right leg. The lower jaw fracture was stabilized with orthopedic wire and before casting the leg fracture, the laceration was cleaned and sutured.

With most of the external injuries stabilized, it was a waiting game to see how severe this little bear's head trauma was. She took a very long time recovering from her sedation and the Wildlife Clinic team was concerned that she was bleeding into her brain. The bear was given several medications to relieve pain, reduce inflammation of the nervous system and prevent infection of her injuries.

After 24 hours, the bear was only slightly responsive to noise. The Neurology Service at the Tufts Small Animal Hospital consulted on the case and recommended a CT (Computed Topography) scan of the brain. Lucky for the bear, the results of the CT scan indicated that there were no areas of bleeding or compression of her brain.

The bear's condition began improving steadily after 48 hours at the Clinic. She became more alert and began eating and walking. She showed a healthy fear of humans and readily "huffed" and "chomped" as a threat to her caretakers.

To reduce the amount of human contact, the bear cub was moved into a specially designed carnivore enclosure that allows the veterinary staff to supply fresh food and water and clean the enclosure with no physical or visual contact with the bear. This ensures her wild behavior and prevents her from associating food with humans.

The bear cub required several weeks of hospitalization while her fractures healed. She made a full recovery within 3 months and was released back into the wild by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife at an undisclosed location in Western Massachusetts.

For more information on Black Bears in Massachusetts visit the following website: http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/wildlife/facts/mammals/bear/black_bear_home.htm

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