Heartbreaking Photo Shows 'Grieving' Mom Bear Standing Over Cub Hit by Car

A Yosemite National Park ranger has shared a moving photo of a "grieving" mother bear and her dead cub after it was hit by a car.

The ranger has shared the photo in order to highlight "the sad reality" behind vehicle-related bear death statistics and urged park visitors to travel at the speed limits and stay alert.

There have been more than 400 vehicle-bear collisions on Yosemite roadways since 1995, with dozens struck by cars every year, according to KeepBearsWild.org.

Last weekend, Yosemite National Park shared an account via its Facebook page from one of its rangers who had to respond to the death of a cub that had been reported.

The ranger said such calls had sadly become routine. They logged the coordinates, gathered their things, and set off to find the animal.

The ranger was aiming to move the dead animal body away from the road in order to prevent more animals from getting hit as they scavenged on it. They also wanted to collect samples and take measurements for research.

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After a search, the ranger said they were able to locate a "tiny light brown body" of a cub, estimated to be around 6 months old, lying just a few feet from the road.

The park worker adds: "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."

They place the cub in a more suitable resting spot and start taking measurements, but notice another bear nearby.

The ranger said they scared it off by smashing a stick against a tree, but the bear soon returns once more, staring at the ranger and grunting. The ranger realizes the bear must be the cub's mother.

"It's a vocalization, the kind female bears make to call to their cubs," the ranger said. "It's no coincidence… Now here I am, standing between a grieving mother and her child."

The ranger decided to leave, but quickly set up a remote camera before doing so. Explaining why, they wrote: "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."

KeepBearsWild states that vehicle-bear collisions are now one of the leading causes of black bear mortality in Yosemite.

A "Red Bear Dead Bear" initiative, launched in 2007, makes use of signs placed throughout the park in areas where collisions have taken place in the past to encourage awareness.

Bear cub and mother
A stock photo shows a mother bear and her cub crossing a road in Yellowstone. Dozens of bears are hit by road vehicles every year. moose henderson/Getty