Veterinarians were confused after black bear cubs in California have been displaying 'dog-like behaviour'. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife on March 30 said that a small black bear had moved at a utility worksite in Pollock Pines, El Dorado County last month. The veterinarians after analysing the cub have said that these kind of bears showed head tremors and a subtle head tilt and troubling signs of neurological abnormalities.
The bear who seemed sick and alone was unaffected by the attempts of the people to shoo it by yelling and clapping. The young bear had moved into a residential backyard and was comfortable around people. The people gave the animal water, apples and strawberries and the bear picked up an apple to eat in front of them, as per the website of CDFW.
The CDFW wildlife biologist who had gone to investigate the bear had faced a similar situation in other parts of the state. The bear was taken to CDFW's Wildlife Investigations Laboratory (WIL) in Rancho Cordova for observation and evaluation by veterinarians. They found that the yearling female bear was undersized and underweight for its age. The bear weighed 21 pounds, unlike other pounds who at that age weigh closer to 80 pounds.
According to the website of CDFW, The bear who was kept under observation displayed head tremors and a subtle head tilt and troubling signs of neurological abnormalities. After a week of observation, the veterinarians confirmed that the bear had neurological and behavioural deficits. Preliminary findings have confirmed encephalitis or inflammation of the brain, which would make it the third bear with neurological disorders due to encephalitis. CDFW wildlife veterinarian Brandon Munk said that the few bears who show this kind of bear do not seem to fully recover, some requiring significant medical management for the life of the bear, which will be a huge burden for these facilities that often operate on tight budgets.
"Any time a wild animal comes into our care, the best-possible outcome is a release back to the wild," he said.
"That’s just not possible for these neurologically impaired bears. At this point, we don’t know what causes the encephalitis so we don’t know what, if any, health risks these bears might pose to other animals," he added.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife was the first to raise the concern in 2014. Veterinarians and biologists from the two-state wildlife agencies met virtually again this month to share updates on the situation. One such bear with a prominent head tilt became a social media sensation in 2019 when it approached a snowboarder at the Northstar ski resort. The bear is now three years old and lives at the San Deigo Humane Society's Ramona campus.
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