Treatment of two Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) with severe injuries and their subsequent release into the wild: a case report

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Jeong, Dong-Hyuk; Jang, Kwangsik; Yang, Jeong-Jin; Choi, Joo-Yeul; Lim, Seung-Hyo; Yeon, Seong-Chan; Shim, Kyung Mi; Kim, Se Eun; Kang, Seong Soo
Issue Date
BMC Veterinary Research. 2021 Mar 20;17(1):125
Asiatic black bearsWildlifeInjuryAmputationDual plate fixationrhBMP-2RehabilitationReintroduction
The rehabilitation of injured wildlife and their subsequent release into the wild is a humane act as well as important in wildlife conservation. However, little is known about the animals fate after release. Therefore, to address these uncertainties, it is essential to adequately describe how the injured animals were treated and managed before releasing into the wild; moreover, post-release monitoring should also be performed. Herein, we document for the first time the process of rescue, surgery, and rehabilitation of severely injured Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus; endangered species in South Korea) and their fate after returning to the wild.

Case presentation
A six-year-old female (bear-01) and a three-year-old male (bear-02) bears were injured by an illegal snare and collision with a bus, respectively. Bear-01 had broad muscle necrosis and ruptures from the snared ankle on the right thoracic limb, with myiasis, and elbow disarticulation was performed. In bear-02, a non-reducible comminuted fracture of the left humerus was confirmed radiologically, and the operation was performed by using dual plate fixation with hydroxyapatite and recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2. The bear-01 and -02 were completely healed approximately 30 and 60 days after surgery, respectively. After that, they underwent rehabilitation for 8 and 25 days, respectively, in an outdoor enclosure similar to their natural habitat. Bear-01 and -02 were released into the wild after 45 and 99 days after surgery, respectively, and their mean daily movement distance during the first 30 days after releasing was 2.9 ± 2.1 and 1.3 ± 1.6 km, respectively. The annual mean 95% Kernel home-range size of bear-01 and bear-02 was 265.8 and 486.9 km2, respectively. They hibernated every winter, gained weight, gave birth to cubs (bear-01), were not found to have any abnormalities in the veterinary tests, and were not involved in any conflicts with humans after returning to the wild.

Bears without one leg or those with dual plates could adapt well in their natural habitat, which shows that our surgical and post-operative treatments were effective. Additionally, minimizing human contact and observing/evaluating behavior during the rehabilitation is essential in reducing human-bear conflicts after release.
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College of Veterinary Medicine (수의과대학)Dept. of Veterinary Medicine (수의학과)Journal Papers (저널논문_수의학과)
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