In the February 10 issue of this paper we told you the story of the rescue of Miles the bear who was found lying in a puddle on the surface of Six Mile Lake.
Unfortunate end for Miles the bear.
Miles the bear cub hibernates the winter away at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary after he was found lying in a puddle on the surface of Six Mile Lake. Miles recently died from a bacterial infection that affected a large part of his brain.
Residents of the area were greatly concerned about the bear and contacted Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.
Staff were able to catch the bear with help from the caring homeowners, who had named him Miles, and brought him back to the sanctuary where he was examined before being put into a warm dark enclosure to continue his hibernation.
His story generated quite a bit of media attention and we were all hopeful that Miles could be released back to the wild once spring came around. Unfortunately that will not happen.
During the past few months, it had been noted that Miles would regularly wake up and drink water. Once he was observed walking awkwardly around his pen and then returned to his bed.
A couple of weeks ago he was taken to an outside enclosure after our other bears had come out of hibernation.
He continued to hibernate, and staff regularly checked on him. Last week staff noticed he appeared to be in distress. He was moved into the barn and staff consulted with veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Garner, who suggested antibiotics.
The next morning, staff found he’d suffered a seizure and, following further consultation with Dr. Garner, it was thought that Miles had irreversible neurological damage and, rather than allow him to continue to suffer, he was humanely euthanized. In order to determine what might have caused this damage, staff took him to the University of Guelph for necropsy (an autopsy for animals), and just this week we were given their preliminary diagnosis.
The primary problem was a bacterial infection affecting a large portion of his brain. Probably late last year Miles suffered a broken jaw. Although it had healed, bacteria had settled in there and gradually spread to the brain area adjacent to the jaw.
The spread of the infection was slowed by his hibernation but eventually, it caused the seizures.
It would have been impossible to have diagnosed the problem when he was first picked up off the ice. There was obviously a problem from the beginning as his leaving the den in the middle of winter is not normal, nor was his drinking of water while hibernating with us. Hibernating bears do not drink until the spring.
Despite our best efforts, not all of our patients make it, but some leave more of an impression than others. Miles is gone, but his memory lives on.
(These weekly articles are contributed by staff at the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife with a mandate to educate the public towards a better understanding of local fauna.)