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Author of books about Wildlife Center patients continues tour for “Bailey the Bear Needs Help!”

Rebecca Barnabi
Award-winning author Christy Gove reads from “Bailey the Bear Needs Help!” at Waynesboro Public Library on Thursday, October 26, 2023. Photos by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

Bailey the black bear was six or seven months old when she was hit by a vehicle in Waynesboro on North Delphine Avenue in the summer of 2016.

She was brought to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, only miles from the accident site, because the center is the only facility in Virginia capable of caring for and rehabilitating black bears.

Award-winning author Christy Gove began a tour of the Valley today with a reading of her new book, “Bailey the Bear Needs Help!” at the Waynesboro Public Library.

“It’s the true story of how our veterinarian team fixed her jaw,” Wildlife Center of Virginia Senior Vice President Amanda Nicholson said of the book.

The center cares for five or six black bear cubs per year.

“You never know what’s going to come in. That’s the fun part of the Wildlife Center,” Nicholson said.

The most bear cubs the center has cared for in one year was 19.

“Our grocery bill takes a hit with feeding 19 bears,” Nicholson said.

Eight hundred pounds of food is necessary to feed five bears each week.

Patients at the center are rehabilitated and cared for so that they can return and function in the wild again.

“We’ll be glad to see them go back into the wild in April,” Nicholson said of bear cubs every year.

Bear cubs are born in winter, usually early in the year, and released in the spring with the assistance of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, which takes the bears to different natural areas in the Commonwealth.

The center has approximately 20 patients who remained at the center after rehabilitation because their injuries make their return to the wild unsafe.

As Gove’s book tour continues Friday in the Valley, she will be at the center at 4 p.m., where tours of the education ambassador areas will also be available.

Gove’s first book, “Ester the Eaglet” put her on the center’s radar a few years ago when staff wanted a book written about education ambassador Maggie, the Peregrine Falcon.

Clover the American Kestrel Falcon visited at Waynesboro Public Library on Thursday, October 26, 2023. Photo by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

Maggie’s eye had been damaged, which meant she could not return to the wild. Gove wrote a book about Maggie, followed by a book about Greta, the Great Horned Owl, who was hit by a train.

According to Gove, who lives in Minnesota, her publisher said that audience interest existed for more wildlife rehabilitation books, but thought a book about a mammal should be next.

Gove said she pitched an opossum, a turkey vulture, a black bear and a box turtle as potential book subjects.

“It’s nice to pick an animal that people can actually see,” Gove said of Bailey, whose jaw injury was thought to be unique enough to have a book written about her journey at the center. “I’m excited to be here. I love participation. I love having the kids come.”

Gove’s full tour schedule, which concludes Saturday, October 28, is available on the center’s website.

Related stories:

Wildlife Center bear cub featured in latest book from award-winning author Christy Gove – Augusta Free Press

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.