​Bear pays a visit to U.Va. hospital system

The black bear, nicknamed ‘U.Va. Bear,’ was spotted near the Battle Building of the U.Va. Children’s Hospital.

nsbearcourtesyjimbakeruvatoday

According to social media posts and reported sightings, the bear spent the day at the University.

Courtesy Jim Baker, U.Va. Today

A black bear capitalized on a quiet summer day to visit Grounds Wednesday, roaming outside the Battle Building wing of U.Va. Children’s Hospital.

An alert was sent to the University community reading, “Police are investigating an incident … Avoid area around Battle Building, Bear in area. Avoid the area and follow police direction.”

Later, U.Va. Alerts sent, “Authorities have safely removed the bear from the area. All clear.”

“Officers from the Charlottesville Police Department and University of Virginia Police Department arrived at the Battle Building on Wednesday at 6:07 p.m. in response to a call that a bear was on the premises,” University spokesperson Matt Charles said in an email statement.

Charles said the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries was called in to assist. A wildlife biologist for the department, David Kocka arrived at Battle Building and found the bear at the base of a tree.

“Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officials safely removed the bear from the scene at 7:44 pm,” Charles said.

Kocka and a colleague tranquilized the bear and loaded it into Kocka’s truck, after which the bear spent the night at Kocka’s house as the tranquilizer wore off. The bear was released Thursday morning on national forest property near Harrisonburg.

Black bears are native to Virginia and can be found all over the state. According to the Shenandoah National Park website, 5,000 to 6,000 black bears can be found in Virginia.

“We believe that the black bear population within the Park ranges from the low to high hundreds, depending on the availability and distribution of natural forage, particularly mast crops, the degree of annual recruitment and mortality within the population, and seasonal influences such as breeding cycles, juvenile dispersal, and hunting pressure from adjacent lands,” the website said.

According to social media posts and reported sightings, the bear spent the day at the University, although it might have been a different bear than that which was removed from the hopsital area.

“A bear prowled in early a.m. @UVA @Center4Politics,” Center of Politics director Larry Sabato wrote in a tweet. “We’ve now identified it. Sure enough, it’s a political bear.”

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