What would you do if you saw an enormous black bear on the road? And not just passing by, minding its business. What if it was stuck there, not moving, staring right at you?
Just a Regular Day…Or So it Seemed
State Trooper Thomas Owens was driving on a regular day in a traffic jam on a highway in New Hampshire. Owens could tell that there was a commotion up ahead. He had no idea exactly what scene awaited him. But he knew that whatever it was, it must be serious. And it sure was.
At first, Thomas thought maybe someone had an issue with their vehicle or got in an accident. But as he came closer, he could see why all the cars had come to a halt. There was a large figure in the road up ahead. Thomas saw that people were getting out of their cars to see what the commotion was about.
In his years in law enforcement, Thomas had never seen anything like this before. But still he knew he had to act fast.
Who could expect what Thomas was about to see?
An Unexpected Sight
Trooper Owens did not expect to see what was causing the holdup on the highway. There, stopping traffic was an enormous black bear. It was stomping back and forth on the wide, open road. Its claws scratching against the tarmac. It was pacing aggressively back and forth across the road. The scene was chaos. Thomas yelled for people to return to the safety of their cars.
The drivers scrabbled back into their cars when they heard Thomas’ warning. They quickly went back to the safety of their vehicles. But Thomas was completely exposed, on foot, had nowhere to turn.
Nowhere to Run
All the drivers on the busy highway were now waiting, terrified. But the bear wasn’t moving and she didn’t seem like she was going to either. So Thomas decided to tell everyone to turn back. He knew he had to take action, for the safety of the people as well as to protect the bear. Thomas wanted to give this incredible and dangerous animal some space.
As the cars started to turn around, Thomas wanted to get a closer look to see what was keeping this bear so occupied in the middle of the road. Understandably a scary moment, Thomas mustered up the courage to take a step closer.
We’ll understand soon why this bear was not moving…
Setting the Scene
Bretton Woods in Carroll, New Hampshire spans across 700 acres of land. It’s home to nearly 200 species of birds alone, and so it became a protected wilderness. But clearly, birds are not the only animals found in Bretton Woods.
Thomas was about to encounter the biggest animal in Bretton Woods and one of the biggest in the world. Encounters bears can have a different outcome, some potentially extremely dangerous. But bears can also be quite peaceful. They usually keep to themselves around these areas.
Animals on the Road
Unfortunately, people kill more wildlife with their cars than in any other way. But we can help cut the number of animals who die on roads and highways. If you see an animal on the road there are things you should do:
Slow Down – collision avoidance and driver response time are improved at slower speeds.
Anticipate unpredictable behavior from all wildlife; as well as other vehicles on the road.
Try to determine what the animal is doing and where it might go.
Animals Travel in Groups
Some animals travel in groups- where there is one animal, there may be more.
NEVER stop to view wildlife. This stresses wildlife and creates unsafe road conditions due to traffic congestion.
Considering the mama bear was in the middle of the road, people had no choice but to stop, as dangerous as it may be.
Bretton Woods is Full of Bears
Thomas was about to encounter the biggest animal in Bretton Woods and one of the biggest in the world. Encounters with bears can result in different outcomes, some potentially extremely dangerous. But bears can also be quite peaceful. They usually keep to themselves around these areas.
So why was this one acting so strangely?
The Bear Wasn’t Alone
Thomas had training for when it came to interacting with dangerous animals. But still, he never could have prepared for what he was about to encounter. When Thomas stepped closer, he noticed the bear had some followers. There were four little cubs approaching the road. Three followed their mother to the other side, but one was struggling.
These little cubs were very young, but still old enough to get around on their own. The little cub wouldn’t move. Then, the mother bear did something.
Something was Wrong
Momma bear returned to the cub’s side and began to nudge him with her nose. She slowly walked to and from either side of the road, showing her young what to do. However, after a few minutes of watching her struggle to get the cub to stand, Thomas knew something was wrong.
He watched her return to the bushes, leaving her young cub to fend for itself. Thomas felt the need to take action.
So what did he do?
Thomas rushed to the cub’s side. But he quickly noticed that the poor cub could barely keep its eyes open. It was trying to stand but would collapse right away. Something was terribly wrong. Thomas immediately picked up the sick cub and ran back to his squad car. He knew he had to take the little bear to get help. But who knew what was wrong with the cub and what could be done?
Thomas knew of one place to take the bear and was hopeful and that he would make it in time!
Couldn’t Stop Thinking About Mama Bear
Thomas was taking the cub to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Center. But the whole way there, he couldn’t help but think of the mother bear and what had happened. Sure, her baby was sick. But how can an animal leave her baby behind?
When Thomas got the center, he was met by vets and a nurse and they all acted fast and urgently. They ended up working tirelessly through the night.
So did he find out what happened to the bears?
Hearing What Happened
Thomas later discovered why the mother bear abandoned her sick cub. As it turns out, the likelihood of the cub’s survival in its condition and being in the wild was little to none. If Thomas would have left the cub there, it probably would have died. And in addition, if the mother had stayed her the sick cub, she would have put the rest of her cubs in danger.
Thomas acting fast and taking the cub to get help ended up saving the cub’s life.
More Shocking News
Thomas found out some more shocking news. Apparently, the baby cub was not the only one who had been abandoned! As it turns out, the mama bear had five cubs by her side.
Thomas’s saga with this bear family wasn’t over. He wanted to help out some more and he knew exactly what he had to do.
Did he find the other cub?
Lost and Found
Thomas was met by more state troopers as well as multiple K9 units. Their plan was to look for the cub, but if they couldn’t locate it, the canines were to sniff around. It wasn’t long before they managed to find the fifth cub. It actually wasn’t far from the original spot that the bears were spotted at on the road.
The baby cub was cold, wet, and hungry, but they managed to get it some help just in time. But the center had a tough decision to make. What were they going to do once the cubs were healthy? They couldn’t bottle feed forever. They knew that the mother was important to the cubs’ survival.
Caring for the Cubs
Thankfully, the siblings made a quick recovery back to health. Most rescued animals take time to recover due to stress and isolation. But the center provided constant love and care. The center intends to reunite the cubs with their mother once they are strong enough. And there’s one person who has kept an eye on their progress.
Thanks to Thomas, these two little cubs are happy and healthy.
The Whole Story Documented
Jane Langmaid recorded the incident. She was also driving innocently down the road when she saw the officer leaving his car and attempting to help the bear cub. The footage is quite astonishing, and it really is something to see.
She Just Had to Film It
She said, “When I made this video, one runt was already in Lyme NH Bear rehab so there are 4 cubs here… the mother is trying to move from the right side to the left side…she wants all 4 cubs to remain with her…the problem is that 1 of the 4 is also very weak/a runt.”
Langmaid also said, “I later learned that the family of 4 (mama bear and the other cubs) did have to leave this runt… therefore the police did connect runt #4 with the Lyme NH Rehab as well, where sibling #5 already was.”
A Wilderness Expert
In addition filming the story, apparently, Jane Langmaid is somewhat of a wilderness expert. She wanted to explain a little bit more about where the bears came from, and how the whole story came about. She talked about how it all took place in Bretton Woods, a landmark that is a part of White Mountain National Forest. This forest is enormous, with over 750,000 acres of protected wilderness – and for that reason, there are all kinds of animals there.
White Mountain National Forest
White Mountain National Forest is the home of many interesting animals, such as coyotes, deer, moose, and even bobcats. But while there are all kinds of animals that live in this forest, there is no animal quite as intimidating as the black bear. In fact, in the state of New Hampshire alone, there are an estimated 4,800 to 5,000 black bears. So people that live in the area aren’t shocked to hear about bear sightings.
An Amazing Story
But what makes this story so amazing isn’t just the fact that there were bears involved. The officer and Jane Langmaid were still very surprised when they saw the bears on the road. But the amazing thing about the story that the officer knew he had to help and bring the baby cubs back to their health and to each other.
Jane described the experience of watching the officer and his heroic endeavors. She said that she “had the pleasure of watching the officer and cubs in action.” She would further discuss how much fun it was for her to make the video because it would help educate not just the state of New Hampshire, but potentially the entire world about the different things that go on in our environment.
A Social Service
For Jane, making the video was something like a social service in her eyes. On one hand, yes, she thought that the story was really cool – and she knew that people would like it, and that the video could potentially go viral. But even more than that, Jane said that she felt that her video was an educational tool as well. She said that it “demonstrates the problem as well as the great love of the bear family.” But what problem was she referring to?
What Can We Learn?
So what have we learned from this story? If Jane Langmaid’s video exists in order to educate us, what can we learn from it? Is it to learn that there are mother bears are willing to leave their weaker babies stranded in order to save themselves and care for their stronger offspring? Maybe. But how are we supposed to fix something like that? How can one judge a mother bear for doing such a thing?
Perhaps the moral of the story is that we should always keep our eyes open. The police officer, who is also the hero of this story, saw something happening and sprang into action. It’s easy to say afterward that his decision was easy, but when it all took place in real time he may have easily been scared. Regardless, he knew what to do.
To Act or Not
Sometimes in life, we’ll come into contact with things that we don’t expect. And when that happens, it’ll be our decision whether we want to take action or not. There is nothing wrong with being scared. Fear is a natural emotion. It’s what we do with that fear that counts.
Bear in Mind
Bears are interesting animals. They are both respected and considered dangerous at the same time. But it’s important to remember that bears are just like all other creatures on this earth – living beings that need love and care.
Don’t Try This at Home
Regardless of how sweet the cubs are and how interesting bears are, it’s important to note that it is still dangerous to come close to them. You should always be cautious when you’re roaming in their neck of the woods.
Another Heartwarming Story Worth Hearing
Photo by independent.co.uk
If you liked this story, you might want to hear this one. It’s about a man who risked his life to save a bear cub. Corey Hancock, 41, was on a remote trail near Oregon’s Santiam River Monday evening when he saw a bear cub in distress.
“I thought about my 2-year-old son, and I saw a baby that deserved to live.”
Photo by d.digests.nhub.news
Corey found the bear in an awful state. It was emaciated, soaking wet and barely breathing. The size of a stuffed animal, he was lying face up in a meadow. Corey was certain that it would almost certainly die within minutes. A feeling of panic came over him and he knew he had to do something.
And he knew he had to think fast.
The Right Decision
Photo by kxl.com
Corey waited 10 minutes to see if the mother bear would show up. But she never came, so he chose to act. He wrapped the cub in his flannel shirt and a rainproof sack and ran over a mile and a half to Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center in Hancock’s hometown of Salem.
But something happened on the way and Corey went to desperate measures…
Whatever it Takes
Photo by Oregonlive.com
When it appeared that the little cub stopped breathing, Corey took to doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He managed to keep it alive in time to reach the center, but he had no idea what would happen to the cub. He could clearly see the critical condition it was in.
Once he got to the center, they took the cub and started its care immediately.
The Care it Needed
Photo by babyanimalzoo.com
The bear was placed on a heating pad and given electrolyte fluids. The next morning, it had already shown improvement and it was turned over to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Corey’s story went to the media, as one can expect. But although many people praised his efforts and called him a hero. But unfortunately, he also got a lot of backlash from viewers. And they had their reasons.
Not Everyone Agrees
Photo by thedailycourier.com
While most people praised Hancock, he also incurred a backlash from those who thought he should have stayed out of nature’s way. Some people pointed out that he committed the animal to a life of captivity. The fear is that it’s in the hands of a wildlife center, he will never go back to nature.
But that isn’t necessarily the case…
He Did What He Could
Photo by bbc.co.uk
After hearing Corey’s story, Sylvia Dolson, executive director of “Get Bear Smart Society”, said, “The rescuer, in this case, did the only thing any caring person should do”. She said how the cub “would have almost certainly died” without help. But that doesn’t mean people who discover bear cubs in the wild need to rescue them, she cautioned.
Photo by nypost.com
Michelle Dennehy, a spokeswoman for the Oregon fish and wildlife agency, said that it’s unlawful to remove wildlife from their habitat but in Corey’s case, it seemed unique and his actions were “well-intentioned.” In fact, the Oregon state police talked to him and issued a warning but decided not to cite him.
Apparently, this kind of thing happens frequently in the wild. And it can lead to jail time.
It Happens More than We Think
Photo by experiencecadescove.com
“Every year we see deer fawns and bear cubs and cougar kittens removed from the wild because people assume the animal is orphaned when the mother is just eating or doing something else,” Dennehy said. Individuals can face a “Class A” misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of $6,250 and up to a year in jail!
How is the Bear Doing?
Photo by earthtouch.com
The little bear cub weighed 4.5 pounds when the center retrieved it. Veterinary staff diagnosed mild pneumonia and evaluated the male cub “to make sure it didn’t have any underlying congenital issues that would have made him a poor candidate for rehabilitation.”
Apparently, cubs are often more easily rehabilitated when they’re paired with other baby bears. Lone cubs have much lower success rates.
Corey Hopes to Visit
Photo by westernrivers.org
Corey hopes to visit the little guy and monitor his progress, as long as that doesn’t interfere with the cub’s rehabilitation. The place where he found the bear is one of his favorite spots on that trail. He can’t help but feel like their encounter was more than chance. “I almost feel like he was one of my own or something,” he said.