Wildlife Center of Virginia Sees Record Number of Patients

Dec 18, 2020

Warmer winter weather means some bears are not hibernating.
Credit Wildlife Center of Virginia

When the pandemic hit Virginia, the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro figured fewer people would be in their cars, and the population of injured animals would probably drop.  Instead, it’s set a record.

As Virginia’s hospitals began treating COVID patients, the state’s best-known center for wildlife was nearly overwhelmed as injured animals were brought in for care.

“It’s been a very active year – more admissions than we’ve seen, well, ever,” says Amanda Nicholson is the center’s outreach coordinator. “We are coming close to 3,700 animals admitted for the year, so lots of extra mouths to feed.”

The problem, says the center’s director, is the weather – not cold enough to promote hibernation.

“The warm winters we’ve been having, especially in a year like this where we have 22 black bears in here – when they’re not sleeping they’re eating, and they have put quite a dent in the grocery budget this year.  In the early fall, when they were really building up their fat reserves for winter, our staff was preparing 200 pounds of food for the bears each and every day, seven days a week.”

Fortunately, Ed Clark says, the center’s Cub Grub fundraiser was a big hit as was their virtual gala – usually a black tie event.  This year it was held online, so nobody got dressed up, and the event broke all records for donations.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.