YOSEMITE, Calif. (ABC4) – A heartbreaking photo from a national park ranger is prompting a reminder that speeding can kill.
“We get this call a lot,” a Yosemite National Park ranger explains in a Facebook post. “Too much, to be honest.”
The ranger explains the process that occurs when they receive a report that a bear has been hit – “I log the coordinates into my phone, gather the equipment I may need, and head to the location.”
According to the post, the ranger estimates arriving at the scene about five hours after the bear was struck. While this is a common call to receive, the ranger explains how emotional this recent call was.
They say they spot a cub laying a few feet from the road that “couldn’t be much more than six months old, now balled up and lifeless under a small pine tree.”
“I pick up the cub—it couldn’t be much more than 25 pounds—and begin carrying it off into the woods. I have no certain destination; I’m just walking until I can no longer hear the hiss of the road behind me,” the ranger recounts.
While filling out paperwork, the ranger says they hear a stick break and look up to see another bear. After scaring it away, the ranger says they hear “a deep-toned but soft-sounding grunt” described as “a vocalization, the kind sows (female bears) make to call to their cubs.”
“I turn and look in its direction and there she is, the same bear from before intently staring back at me,” the ranger says. “It’s no coincidence. I can feel the callousness drain from my body. This bear is the mom, and she never left her cub. My heart sinks. It’s been nearly six hours and she still hasn’t given up on her cub. I can just imagine how many times she darted back and forth on that road in attempts to wake it. It’s extremely lucky that she wasn’t hit as well. The calls to the cub continue, sounding more pained each time.”
The ranger continues, saying they quickly left the area, but set up a remote camera to capture the above photo of the mother bear appearing to wait for the cub to respond.
“Remember that when traveling through Yosemite, we are all just visitors in the home of countless animals and it is up to us to follow the rules that protect them,” the post closes. “Go the speed limit, drive alertly, and look out for wildlife. Protecting Yosemite’s black bears is something we can all do.”
In May, rangers at Bryce Canyon National Park issued a similar warning after a pregnant pronghorn was fatally struck in a hit-and-run incident.