LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tragedy

Death was instantaneous. An 80-pound Black Bear cub is no match for tons of metal traveling at 70 mph.

Last week, a bear cub wandered onto Interstate 26 and was killed in traffic. The sight of the dead bear cub was heartbreaking. More heartbreaking was the sight of the mother who had been foraging with her other cub at the roadside. The mother ventured into the road to see about her cub. Police arrived and immediately shut down the Interstate.

Black Bear mothers are strongly devoted to their cubs. It is not without reason that people are advised never to come between a mother bear and her cub. As traffic stopped, the mother bear seemed perplexed. She was trying to decide what to do. She did not realize her cub was dead. The police officers distracted the bear and pulled the cub off the Interstate to the side of the road so that the mother could reach it. As the officers walked away, the mother grabbed the cub by the nape of the neck and pulled it off into the woods, her other cub following behind.

The mother stayed with her cub, trying to awaken it to no avail. This behavior is not uncommon for Black Bears. These animals are fiercely protective of their cubs. They are attentive to their every need and communicate with them much like human mothers do, with soft gurgles and soothing sounds. Black Bear babies cry and sound a lot like human babies. The mother protects her cubs from danger, and have been know to fight other bears who might do the cubs harm. She will fight to the death if necessary to protect them.

Like human teenagers, the cubs remain with their mother long after they are mostly self-sufficient. Most cubs will remain with the mother for two years, so surely this particular mother was devastated by the limp body of her cub.

After dragging her cub away into the woods, the mother stayed at his side, occasionally touching him. Was she grieving? Did she still not understand what was going on? No one can say. What we do know is that she stayed with the dead cub for several hours. Then she nudged the dead cub once more and slowly walked away with her remaining cub close behind.

Did I mention that a 50-pound bear cub can be legally shot during bear hunting season in North Carolina? Yes, it is perfectly legal to kill a 50-pound first season bear cub. Legal to kill a cub the mother so loves, a cub who would otherwise spend the winter snug in the den with his or her sibling and mother. A cub for whom the mother will almost certain grieve in her own way


Photograph from National Geographic

The same issue of the newspaper reported that a human mother has been arraigned and held on charges of severe child abuse. She had put her toddler in extremely hot water as punishment and the child sustained severe burns to the buttocks and legs. The child also showed signs of previous abuse, including a black eye and cigarette burns on the feet.

It all seems so senseless.

15 comments:

KatDoc said...

This is such a sad commentary on our world. An animal, an "uncaring, unthinking, soulless, dangerous beast" shows more love and empathy for its child than the "intelligent, superior" human being. And then, the "justice" system will probably let her off with a slap on the wrist while murder of the bear's cub is legal.

Sigh.

This post makes me sad, in so many ways.

~kathi

Tina said...

That was a very sad but realistic story about our world right now...when will we all wake up and see how precious life is...respect our earth and love one another?? I use to go with my father when I was little to deliver corn and salt licks for the local deer and we saw many black bear foraging for food. My father made sure we gave them lots of space as we admired their size and strength!

Cheryl said...

The world is crazy....I sometimes wonder if I belong with people (although since blogging I have met some wonderful nature lovers, and it has restored my faith in human nature...............the bear story has brought tears to my eyes.......poor bear cub......poor mother...........poor sweet human child.......

KGMom said...

Oh--NC--what a sad sad story. I am appalled at all the road kill in this country in general, but it is extra sad for a caring mother to lose her cub.
I ache at every story of human child abuse I hear--especially when there are so many prospective parents who long for children. This is one subject that makes me feel completely powerless.

fishing guy said...

Carolyn: When nature and man intersect sometime tragedy follows. Maybe the other cubs will learn.

Ruth said...

A very thought-provoking post.

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

I don't think the animals will ever 'learn' how to prevent these accidents. We develop right smack dab in the middle of where they live. Where else are they to go?! What sad news......

I had an encounter with a cub in the wild (didn't see or wait to see a momma bear), many people I have known who have lived here for years have yet to see one themselves. I feel lucky :o)

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a sad story, Carolyn. There are lots of black bears in the Smokies. Last spring, we encountered a Mama and 2 precious cubs crossing the road near us. DARN--I didn't have my camera, but those cubs looked like chubby dogs. SO SO SO cute!!!!

Cicero Sings said...

I do feel for bears in particular. They get a bad rap. In our area, one hears of a bear sighting only to hear two days later that they have been shot. Too sad.

I must say, I'm not terribly impressed by us humans!

Jayne said...

How moving it must have been to see that mom try to figure out what was wrong and how heart breaking it must have been for her to know she had to leave and move on with her surviving cub. :c(

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks, all. I really hesitated to write this, but it was something that bothered me so much I had to put it down. No more downers for a while, I promise.

Mary said...

Ugh. Sad to read. I did not know it's legal to end the life of a bear cub in NC...

We live in an insane nation. The treatment of children and wildlife really sends me into fits sometimes.

Good post. Thanks, Carolyn.

Dog_geek said...

Oh, so heartbreaking.

pat said...

Awww thats soo sad....They are truly magnificent creatures. I know they are an issue for some people and created some problems in more populated areas...but a mother is a mother..Its so sad.

Margaret Cloud said...

This is a very touching post, it brought tears to my eyes, nature does not understand death, I can feel for that mom bear, the only comfort she has is her other cub. As for the human mom that has no reasoning for punishment I feel sorry for her children, they should be taken away.