"I want people to see what I saw: the sad reality behind each of these numbers," the ranger said about the number of bears killed by speeding vehicles every year.
A Yosemite National Park ranger has shared a moving account of a mother bear mourning the death of her cub caused by a speeding vehicle. Hoping the raw emotion will urge people to be mindful as they drive through spaces we share with wildlife, the ranger took to Facebook to explain in detail what he has been witnessing far too often.
In the post that has now gone viral, the unidentified ranger states: "We get this call a lot. Too much, to be honest. 'Bear hit by a vehicle, dead on the side of the road.' Sadly, it’s become routine." This time too, it was the same routine. He got a call with the location of the bear that had been killed in a collision that had seemed to have occurred at noon. "My job here is easy, really: find the bear, move its body far away from the road to prevent any other animals from getting hit while scavenging on it, fill out a report, and collect samples and measurements for research. Then I’m off on my way again with another number to add to the total of bears hit by vehicles this year—data we hope will help prevent future collisions. Pretty callous. However, the reality behind each of these numbers is not," he explained.
He made his way to where the bear was spotted. "A cub. Its tiny light brown body lying just feet from me and the road, nearly invisible to every passerby," the ranger wrote. "It’s a new cub—couldn’t be much more than six months old, now balled up and lifeless under a small pine tree. For a moment I lose track of time as I stand there staring at its tiny body, but then the sound of more cars whizzing by reminds me of my place and my role. I let out a deep sigh and continue on with my task." He carried the cub's tiny body that weighed nothing more than 25 pounds into the woods as far away from human activity as possible.
He got to work and starting collecting the necessary data to file. That was when he heard a stick break close by. He looked up to see a bigger bear staring at him. The ranger stood up quickly and tried to scare the bear away by striking a stick on a tree trunk assuming that it was a path commonly used by bears. But after a few minutes, the bear came back. But this time it made a distinct vocalization that female bears make to call to their cubs. "I can feel the callousness drain from my body. This bear is the mom, and she never left her cub," the ranger noted.
He went on to write, "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. I glance back finding myself hoping it would respond to her call too, but of course, nothing. Now here I am, standing between a grieving mother and her child. I feel like a monster." He decided to allow the heartbroken mother to grieve for her baby. Before he left them, however, he decided to attach a remote camera.
He explained, "Every year we report the number of bears that get hit by vehicles, but numbers don’t always paint a picture. I want people to see what I saw: the sad reality behind each of these numbers." He then reminded people that "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. Go the speed limit, drive alertly, and look out for wildlife. Protecting Yosemite’s black bears is something we can all do." He also shared the heartbreaking image of the brown with her cub as an additional reminder.