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Heartbreaking photo shows cars dangerous for Yosemite bears

At first glance, the image looks like a slice of life in the woods: A mother bear gazes suspiciously at a photographer who got too close to her and her calf as he lay in a grassy field at her feet.

But the photo, taken by an unidentified Yosemite National Park ranger, takes a heart-wrenching twist when accompanied by a lengthy post on the park’s Facebook page that pleads with motorists to slow down for fear of having an encounter. deadly with wildlife – like the one that killed the cub last week.

“We receive this call a lot. Too many, to be honest, ”begins Friday’s post. “’Bear hit by vehicle, dead on the side of the road’. Unfortunately, it has become a routine.

The ranger explains that part of the job is to find the dead animals, keep their bodies away from the roadsides to protect other animals that might search the carcasses, collect samples and measurements for research and complete a death report.

The data collected on bears struck and killed by vehicles is intended to help prevent future fatal collisions.

Dozens of black bears are struck by vehicles every year, organization says Keep the bears wild, with vehicle collisions being one of the leading causes of black bear deaths in Yosemite.

“I’m trying to remember how many times I’ve done this now and frankly I don’t know,” the post read. “It’s not what any of us commit to, but it’s part of the job nonetheless.”

News of the dead bear reached the ranger’s office around 4 p.m., although the animal had been killed a few hours earlier. After searching the side of the road for a while, the ranger spotted the young cub.

“He’s a new kid – he couldn’t have been more than 6 months old, now curled up and lifeless under a small pine tree. For a moment, I lose track of time as I stand there staring at her tiny body.

“The least I can do is find a nice place to lie down,” the ranger recalls in the social media post and carries the body deeper into the woods.

Examining the cub, who weighed just 25 pounds, the ranger discovers the animal was female, lamenting “maybe she would have had her own cubs.”

During the task, the ranger is surprised to hear a noise and sees an adult bear watching from the brush nearby. The ranger first scares the bear, but it soon returns, making a strange noise.

“Behind me is a deep but soft growl. It is a vocalization, the one that nice sows (female bears) make to call their young, ”writes the forest ranger.

“This bear is the mother, and she has never left her cub. My heart sinks. It’s been almost six hours and she still hasn’t given up on her little one.

“The calls to the lion cub continue, seeming more painful each time,” describes the ranger. “Here I am, standing between a grieving mother and her child. I feel like a monster. “

The ranger moves away shortly, but not before he has installed a remote camera intended to capture the “grim reality” behind the bear mortality statistics: “Every year we report the number of bears that are struck by vehicles, but the numbers don’t always paint a picture. “

The Facebook post ends with a call to the public: “When we travel through Yosemite, we are all just visitors to the home of countless animals and it’s up to us to follow the rules that protect them. Obey the speed limit, drive carefully, and watch out for wildlife. Protecting Yosemite’s black bears is something we can all do.

More than 5,000 grieving Facebook users responded to the ranger’s story on Tuesday, with one user calling it “one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever read.”

The post has been shared over 61,000 times and received the thanks of many users.

“Thank you for your story and for giving this little one’s shortened life purpose,” Sydney Goosen commented. “People are [in Yosemite] to appreciate beauty but not to see their actions slowly diminish it.

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