Sixteen black bear cubs will soon be getting a new home at the Wildlife Center of Virginia just outside of Waynesboro. The cubs are all orphans, and four are from southwest Virginia.
"The cubs have been attacked by dogs. We have a couple that were actually caught in a forest fire and so we bring them in at that point," said Dr. Dave Mcruer, the Wildlife Center Director of Veterinary Services.
We checked with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), which says southwest Virginia has the highest bear population.
"Unfortunately, we have too many cases in the state of people trying to raise bear cubs themselves, and that really is a big risk for the people, but it's also a really big risk for the bear cubs, because they learn to imprint on human behaviors and they're more likely to become a nuisance bear in the future," Mcruer said.
Construction is underway on new bear pens where human interaction will be limited and the bears will learn how to live with each other in the wild. The three enclosures are each about half an acre in size. The $400,000 project is being paid for by donations, and about half is financed by the DGIF.
The enclosures will contain trees for the bears to climb, water pools, and a more natural habitat.
Next month, the cubs will be moved into the new habitat. The plan is to release the bears in January. New bears will come in every year starting in March.
If you want to watch the bear cubs on the live critter cam, click here.