Though it’s usually best to stay out of the way of wild animals, every so often it takes human intervention to save a critter’s life. That’s what happened when a New Hampshire state trooper encountered a helpless bear cub that had been abandoned by its family. As he and his fellow officers learned more about the adorable baby black bear, they discovered that there was more to the cub’s story than they first realized. Keep reading for more of this heartwarming story about wildlife intervention at its best.
Police Warned About Animal Crossings
In many populated areas and big cities, seeing an animal crossing the road is only likely if it’s a pet on a leash. In more rural areas like the town of Bretton Woods, seeing wild animals on the road is a regular occurrence.
The wooded spot is located in Carroll, New Hampshire. The Town of Carroll Police Department often warns its residents to watch out for moose and other wandering wildlife while driving.
A Resident’s Encounter With A Bear Family
As police had warned, a bear family decided to cross the street one day in spring. A resident of the town was driving down the road and came to a halt upon seeing the bears up ahead.
It seemed that something was delaying the bear family from fully crossing the road. Fortunately, the resident did the responsible thing and notified the local police. It was clear that the mother was struggling to keep her cubs together.
One Of The Cubs Was Falling Behind
According to the North American Bear Center, the size of a newborn bear cub compared to its mother is smaller than any other placental mammal. At first, the animals are completely dependent on their mothers.
The cubs roaming the road weren’t newborns, but they were still very young. They need to stick by their mother’s side for about one and a half years before achieving independence. So it was worrisome to see that one of the cubs was seriously falling behind.
An Officer Arrived To Control The Traffic
In response to the concerned resident who called the police, state trooper Thomas Owens headed to the scene. He noticed that while three of the cubs could run along with their mom, one was too weak and seemed paralyzed on the road.
Sometimes mothers in nature have a sense when they will not be able to care for their weakest baby. It seemed to be dawning on the mother black bear that one of her young cubs could be putting the rest of the pack in jeopardy.
The Odds Weren’t Looking Good For This Cub
Since animals do not have the medical resources that humans do, being helpless in the face of health issues is the norm. The North American Bear Center reports that bear litters of more than three have a harder time surviving.
The bear family that the state trooper was checking up on had four bear cubs, so it wasn’t surprising that only three of them had the strength to go on. The mama bear may have known this, too.
Waiting For Help To Arrive
The officer began directing traffic around the bears, hoping that the weak cub would eventually be able to move on. When it became clear that the cub was utterly helpless, he knew he would need to contact professionals.
The mother bear moved on with her healthier cubs, keeping them safe from the growing crowd of humans around. Meanwhile, the state trooper contacted Fish and Wildlife Services to have them send out someone to help transport the cub.
Bringing The Cub To Safety
This photograph shows state trooper Thomas Owens holding the adorable little cub that was left behind. Since black bears have a mating season, babies are usually born in January — meaning that this cub was probably around three months old.
Depending on how snowy the year is, parent bears will usually leave the den with their cubs for the first time in April. That’s probably what this bear family was doing when the weak cub starting having trouble.
A Surprising Link Between Separate Events
Once the bear cub was brought to safety, the police began evaluating what had happened. That’s when they made a startling connection between this event and one that had happened within the past 24 hours.
Just the day prior, the police had rescued another little bear cub in the same town. A bear having a litter of four was unlikely, but was it possible that the cub from the day prior was a part of the same large litter?
The Stranded Cubs Were Related
The Town of Carroll Police Department did some investigating and discovered that both cubs they had brought in were from the same mother bear. When it comes to delivering cubs, bears are similar to humans in terms of the number they have.
A female black bear will usually have one or two cubs in her first litter, and rarely more than three, according to the North American Bear Center. This mother bear nearly broke records by having quintuplets!
The Mother Bear Had No Choice
Being that having three bear cubs is risky, having five makes it all the more likely that at least one of the cubs will be sick and weak. Discovering that this mother bear had five cubs shed perspective on the situation.
Even though the mother had five cubs, she’d managed to keep them all warm in her den since January. Sadly, when they emerged in spring, it became clear that two of the cubs wouldn’t make it, so the mother had to sacrifice them for the sake of her other three.
The Police Came To The Rescue
Fortunately for this mother bear, the police would be able to rescue her two sick cubs in ways that she couldn’t. The Town of Carroll Police Department made arrangements to have both cubs taken in for rehabilitation.
With experts by their side and the advantage of science and medicine, their hope was that the cubs would become strong enough to return to the wild. Only time would tell if they’d be able to reunite with their mother and siblings, though.
Reuniting The Sibling Bears
The sibling bear cubs were reunited at a bear rehabilitation center in Lyme, New Hampshire. The first cub was sent there upon being found alone in the woods the day before police encountered the bear’s family in the road.
The second cub was able to join its sibling shortly thereafter, meaning that neither had to fend without a family for long. The fact that these two weakling cubs were found within 24 hours of one another makes it seem like fate had stepped in.
Bear Cubs Thrive With Play
Not only is it significant that the runt cubs were able to reconnect because they are family, but also because they could be playmates. Similar to humans, bear cubs spend a lot of time playing.
Doing so is an important part of their development, especially since they are born so small and helpless. The North American Bear Center states the exact reason why bear cubs play so much is a mystery, but it may have to do with their brain development and cardiovascular fitness.
One Woman Caught The Bear Family On Camera
Jane Langmaid was one of the drivers headed down the road during the bear family’s crossing. As you might expect, she whipped out her phone and started filming the amazing moment. In this screenshot from her video, you can see the three cubs trailing behind the mama bear.
They are headed back to the side of the road they just came from, where the fourth cub was struggling to walk. In the video, you can see the mother waver back and forth on the road, before finally leading her three healthy cubs on and away from their runt sibling.
The Concerned But Non-Aggressive Mother
One of the most heartbreaking parts of the video is how unsure the mother seems to be. As soon as she realizes that her fourth cub didn’t make it across the street, she heads back to the other side.
She goes back and forth repeatedly, with all three of her cubs following. Though the police officer is in close proximity to all of them, she doesn’t show any aggression toward him. It’s as though she knows that he’s only there to help.
Uniquely Timid Black Bears
This image of one of the runt bear cubs saved by the police shows how calm black bears can be. Though this one is just a baby, adult black bears often resort to flight rather than fight, meaning they tend to be less dangerous than the notorious grizzly bear.
Dr. Lynn Rogers of the North American Bear Center states that even black bear mothers are reluctant to attack in defense of their cubs. He asserts that black bears’ ability to climb trees has always provided an effective way of survival, and that those timid genes were passed on to today’s black bears.
The Beautiful Place These Bears Call Home
The family of bears was roaming around the gorgeous White Mountain National Forest, which extends across the border of Maine and New Hampshire. Sweeping mountain views, snowy hilltops, and thick trees with vibrant leaves make this spot seem like paradise.
In addition to the black bear and moose, this land is home to bald eagles, coyotes, bobcats, gray and red foxes, mink, porcupines, and so many more wildlife species. It boasts more than 750,000 acres of protected wilderness.
Learning To Survive On Their Own
Like many young mammals, black bears typically learn how to function as adults from their mother. Since the police officers were able to save them from being abandoned, it’s up to the black bear rehabilitation center to prepare them for life in the woods.
Many have been touched by the heartwarming story of the officers who have given the runt bear cubs a second chance. Several people left comments on the police department’s Facebook page thanking them for rescuing the bears.
Hope That They’ll One Day Reunite With Their Family
Those following the story remained hopeful that the bears will one day reunite with their family. While the officers weren’t able to confirm that the mother bear and her healthy three cubs were found, they did have one piece of good news.
One woman commented to ask whatever happened to the baby black bears that the officers had rescued. The Town of Carroll Police Department wrote back on their Facebook page, saying that they were successfully released into the wild after being rehabilitated.
Fishermen Do The Unthinkable When They See Baby Bears Abandoned By Their Mother
Just like with humans, animals are sometimes just not able to provide for their young. This momma bear loved her cubs but in nature, sometimes the fight or flight instinct has to kick in. Heartbreakingly, she faced a situation where she had to choose between her own life and those of her bear cubs. She did what she had to in order to save her own life, but it left her heartbroken.
The fishermen in this story never expected to become such an important part of this story. It will just go to show that you don’t always know what can happen in nature. Hope may have seemed lost for these cubs, but newfound heroes may have saved them.
The Frigid Waters Of Russia Left The Momma Bear Cold And Desperate
Of course, our story takes place in Russia! Where else would men interact with the wild so freely? Specifically, our heroes were out fishing on Lake Vygozero. Located in the northwestern part of Russia, the freshwater lake can reach temperatures as low as negative four degrees Fahrenheit!
The large lake is extremely dangerous for fishermen if they fall in. It is also deadly for any wildlife who decides to take a dip. Something made this momma bear think she could cross the lake with cubs. Our best guess: she was desperate to find food. Little did she know, she might not have a family at the end of the day.
In This Case, Curiosity Nearly Killed The Bear
Nature is wild! Okay, that’s an obvious statement, but we’re still at a loss for what possessed this mom to try and swim across a giant freezing lake with her cubs. Whatever the reason was, she thought they would make it across.
Spoiler alert; she made it across. Her cubs, on the other hand, weren’t so lucky. As we said, the bears may have been starving and getting to the other side of the lake was the answer. Nature may be wild, but there is always logic behind what we think is crazy. Coming up, the bears get swept away, but how do they get separated?
The Moment You’ve Been Waiting For, A True Act Of Chaos
Let’s dive into our story now. This momma bear was raising her cubs, but she hadn’t taught them to swim yet. Still, in order to survive, the family needed to venture across Lake Vygozero. The cubs hung onto their mother for dear life. Sadly, she realized quickly that not one of them would survive if she couldn’t shake them loose.
The decision couldn’t have been easy. Survival isn’t easy though, and this mother wasn’t about to go down with her ship. Did she know she was signing a death warrant for her cubs? She literally put them in a sink or swim situation!
The Moment Of Separation
No one could have seen the shocking moment when our momma bear let her cubs go. The heartbreaking moment goes against everything we thought we knew about nature. The truth is there is more to this story than meets the eye.
Numerous factors were responsible for the decision this mother was forced to make. Sadly yes, she was forced to let her cubs possibly die. The reason might surprise you. You’ll have to keep reading to find out what it was!
The Current Was The True Enemy
Perhaps our momma bear underestimated the current of Lake Vygozero when she decided to swim across with her cubs. The lake is large, but we imagine she had made the journey before. On this fateful day, however, the lake current was too strong.
Despite her best efforts, she just couldn’t hold onto her cubs. She didn’t shake them off or force them loose. The strength of the current forced the family to be separated. It couldn’t have been easy to abandon her cubs, but it would have been impossible to swim back and save them.
What’s A Cub To Do?
Alone and scared, these bear cubs let their survival instincts kick in. Their mom never got the chance to teach them how to swim, but they thrashed around until they figured it out. Treading water and swimming are two different things, though, and these cubs only figured out part one of survival.
Hope looked bleak. They were losing energy fast and could barely see their mother. Eventually, they would run out of energy and submit to the freezing water around them. Before that, luckily, a miracle happened.
All Hope Isn’t Lost
Hope no longer seemed bleak for these cubs, it seemed lost. As their mother continued to get farther away, it became clear they were on their own. Obviously, it would be impossible to know what these bears were thinking. We’re not bears, but it is interesting to speculate.
How close were they to giving up? Exhaustion was setting in, and they didn’t have much gas left in their tanks. With all lost, fate stepped in. The dire tides these cubs were drowning in were about to change in their favor. Up next, an unexpected hero shows up!
A Metal Hero Arrives
On the brink of giving up, fate stepped into our little bear cubs’ lives. In the distance, they spotted a metal hero: a fishing boat. If they could speak, they’d have been yelling, “help!”
No yelling was needed, the crew on the boat spotted the bears in the distance, too. They also spotted the bears mother swimming away. They were hesitant to intervene but knew they might be the cubs only chance to live. It helped that the bears had begun swimming towards them.
Another Day On The Job Suddenly Gets Interesting
The boat the bear cubs were swimming to was a fishing boat. The fishermen on board knew they had a job to do, but also knew these bears were in grave danger. What were they supposed to do, ignore the drowning bears and keep fishing?
They could have, but they didn’t. Remember, this is a story about love, and these fishermen loved nature. Putting a days pay on the line, they made up their minds to save the cubs. There was just one problem…
A Mother Of A Problem
With their minds made up to help the bear cubs, the fishermen on the boat just needed to get past one big obstacle. The momma bear may have had to abandon her cubs, but she was still in the water, and still close enough to turn around and make a mess of the boat.
Our heroes were forced to wait. They needed to make sure the cubs’ mother was far enough away before they could start their rescue. It’s a good thing they still needed to come up with a plan! Then again, these determined cubs may have been concocting a plan of their own.
Baby Bears Make Their Own Rescue Plan
Before the fishermen had a plan of their own, our baby bears did the unthinkable; they came up with their own plan. Yep, these cubs knew their best chance for rescue, and they took it.
They didn’t know that the fishermen on the boat were trying to wait for the all-clear from the momma bear. The truth was these fishermen were their only hope, so they swam to them. Just like the beginning of our story, when these bears got the boat, they hung on for dear life.
This Is Why Camera Phones Were Invented
Amidst the chaos, one of the fishermen did the obvious and grabbed his smartphone. Rescuing baby bears from drowning is a once in a lifetime experience. He waited for the right moment to start filming. He needed to make sure the baby bears were ready for their closeup!
Finally, the cubs got close enough to begin filming. You can see from the picture above how cute these little guys are! We wouldn’t have let them drown either! With the camera rolling, the daring rescue was in full effect. Once the cubs grabbed onto the boat, there was no turning back!
The Fishermen Come Up With A Plan
As it turns out, the cubs’ rescue plan went as far as getting to the boat. Once there they tried to get on, only too realize the side of the boat was too high and they were too exhausted. One of the fishermen came up with an interesting plan on the spot to help.
He grabbed all the fishing supplies on the boat to see if there was anything he could use to help aid the bears in their journey. A fishing net seemed the most logical, but also came with several issues. We’ll get to those later when the net comes into play. Next, the bears come up with a new plan!
When In Doubt, Use Your Mouth!
Survival instinct had served the baby bears well so far. Good for them, their instinct had one more trick up its sleeve! As the fishermen were running out of time, the cubs began using their teeth to grab hold of anything they could hang onto.
Running on fumes, using their teeth to anchor into the boat worked! It may have saved these bears’ lives too! Being able to conserve some energy bought the fishermen more time to figure out how to get them onto the boat with getting hurt or mauled. These bears needed rescuing, but they were still wild animals!
A Good Plan Only Goes So Far
So here we are, baby bears anchored to the fishing boat and fishermen desperately trying to figure out how to haul them to safety. It would have been easy to give up and push the bears back into the water, but these fishermen’s hearts weren’t that cold. Also, the bears had made it this far; they deserved to be rescued!
Still, they couldn’t just reach out and pull the bear cubs into the boat. Besides no one on the boat being strong enough, none of the fishermen were brave enough to put their arm in mouth reach of these wild animals. That is until they locked eyes with each other.
The Eyes Are The Windows To The Soul
As man and bear locked eyes with each other, it was clear who was in danger and needed saving. One look into the desperate eyes of these cubs and any fear the fishermen had disappeared. Everyone knew that even if these bears were safe on the boat, they would not act out against their saviors.
The eyes are the windows to the soul. It doesn’t matter who is looking at what, these bears revealed themselves to the fishermen. Now it was time for the fishermen to reveal their hidden bravery to the bears! Coming up, a plan that finally works!
A New, Even Better Plan Is Hatched
Going back to the beginning, the fishermen looked at the supplies they had with them. Fishing rods? Useless! Fishing nets? Now that could work! The cubs were already holding onto the boat, so giving them a little push seemed like the perfect plan.
Every plan, however, comes with problems to solve. Would the fishing nets be long enough to reach the bears? More importantly, would the fishing nets be strong enough to boost the bears up? This was the plan, and there was no turning back.
Running Out Of Time
Plan in place, the fishermen were quickly running out of time to save the cubs. They had been out on the water swimming and hanging on for what seemed liked hours. This plan had to work. There was no time for another plan to concocted.
They would know right away if the fishing nets would be strong enough to save the bears. It was a longshot, but there were no other shots. For these bears, the situation had become do or die, and these fishermen were not about to let them die.
Easier Said Than Done?
The fishermen acted quickly to get one of their nets under the first cub. The second cub was still in the water, fighting to get to the boat and hang on. As our heroes used the net to hoist the bear, a few things became clear.
First, the net was strong enough! It did not snap underneath the weight of this baby beast. Second, they were about to pull a wild animal on board a boat with strangers that it might think are poachers! This thought crossed their minds, and their solution is one for the ages!
How To Calm The Mighty Beast
Bringing one of the most dangerous animals in the wild onto a small fishing boat is not a safe activity. The first bear cub, as exhausted as he was, could easily act out once on the boat. If he perceived the fishermen as a threat, there is no doubt he could find the energy to defend himself.
To calm the bears, the fishermen used an age-old tactic you might recognize from your infant days. They talked to the animals in soothing voices, assuring them that there was no danger aboard, only safe harbor. The bear understood but was slowly losing energy and becoming heavier to hoist.
Heavy Lifting To The Max
How daunting was the task these fishermen were trying to accomplish? A full-grown bear can weigh up to 1,700 pounds. A newborn can weigh as little as one pound. These cubs were somewhere in between, and their fur was full of water.
The brave fishermen saving these cubs were having their endurance limits tested, that’s for sure! That didn’t stop them, though. Using every ounce of strength they had, they hoisted the first bear. It wasn’t easy, and it took a while, but as you’re about to see, the effort was well worth it!
One Bear In The Boat!
With the fishing net holding firm, the fishermen gave the cub one last big push! He was saved and finally able to relax. This bear would live to see another day! Everyone was happy, but there was no time to celebrate. Don’t forget; there was another bear in the water running out of energy!
The good news was they had proved to themselves they could do the impossible. The bad news was the second cub wasn’t at the boat yet and would take even more energy to save.
Adjusting A Winning Formula
The tricky thing about saving the second cub wasn’t getting him into the boat. The fishermen knew how to do that. The first thing they had to do was get to the baby bear in the first place. Once there, they needed to figure out how to get the cub to the side of the boat so they could bring him on board.
This was no easy task. They moved the boat close to the cub, who was too weak to grab on for safety. Once there, they put the net under the hope and prayed it would work again, this time supporting the entire weight of the bear!
Brothers Reunited At Last
The second bear cub felt heavier than his brother. The fishermen placed the net under him in the water and dragged him to the boat. After this, his rescue was the same; he latched on and the fishermen used every last ounce of strength they had to hoist him to safety.
The brothers were reunited, but far too tired to celebrate. Their saviors couldn’t celebrate yet either. They had saved the baby cubs, but their mother had abandoned them. What were they supposed to do with them?
Not Rescued Just Yet
Now safely onboard, it became clear this rescue mission was far from over. The bear cubs were shaking uncontrollably. They were freezing and scared with no mother to comfort them. Worse, they didn’t have much contact with humans before now and had no idea what intentions their heroes might really have.
As we know, the bears were in no danger from the fishermen. For these cubs, though, this experience happened as they were still learning how the world worked. To this point, it didn’t seem very nice! Of course, things would get better once the fishermen figured out how to get them to shore.
Bears Don’t Make Good Pets
The biggest issue facing these bear cubs was what to do with them. Their mom was gone, and bears aren’t the best domestic pets. Still, they had grown on the fishermen, who were heartbroken to see them shaking and scared.
The decision wasn’t easy for the fishermen, but they decided they needed to return the cubs to land and let them fend for themselves. Hopefully, their mother had taught them enough survival skills to make it! There was always the chance they would be reunited with their mother.
Finding The Perfect Spot To Say Goodbye
The fishermen had an idea for the perfect spot to drop their new friends off. They knew their mom couldn’t be too far away. They just had to figure out which island she ended up on. If they could return the bears to that island, then maybe she would come back for her kids.
They looked around them at all the islands and made their best guess as to where they last saw the mother. Just like the rescue, the percentages were not in their favor, but they knew it was a chance they had to take.
Arriving At The Island
As they approached the island, everyone held their breath. Would their mom be waiting for them? Was this even the right island? Were the fishermen safe if their mom was there? All of these questions would get answered, but not without plenty of drama beforehand.
If they did get the bears to the island and their mom was there, there is no way she would think they were doing the right thing. Her instincts would tell her to protect her children, even at the expense of their saviors. Nerves were high as the boat pulled up. Keep reading to learn what was waiting for them on the island!
Is Mother There To Greet Them?
The fishermen waited at the island before leaving the boat to see if the cubs’ mother would show up. They waited. And waited. Finally, it became clear that it was safe for them to drop the bears off, except the bears weren’t ready to say goodbye.
During the rescue, the bears and fishermen had grown fond of each other. Love from the fishermen had saved the bears, and now the bears didn’t want to go. More accurately, the bears couldn’t go, they were still too weak. The fishermen knew their mother could show up any minute though, and used one last heroic gesture to send the bears back off into the wild.
The Best Kind Of Carrying
Until now, the fishermen had done very little physical handling of the bear cubs. With the poor things too exhausted to move, though, the time for diplomacy was dead. Working against the clock, the fishermen picked up the bears and carried them off the boat onto the island.
The bears, now safely on dry land, still had a fight ahead of them, but for the moment were alive. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye, but the fishermen knew they had to. They were from different worlds, even if love had brought them together for a few hours.
The Risk Was Worth The Reward
Let’s consider the facts. If you were on a boat and saw two of the most dangerous animals in the wild drowning, would you help? It’s a tough question to answer, and these fishermen found the bravery within themselves to do the right thing.
Bears might have a violent reputation, but also mostly keep to themselves, away from humans. Instead of turning their back, these heroes gave these bears a chance to survive at great risk to themselves. The reward they received, the bond formed that will last a lifetime, was worth every life-threatening second!
The Future Is Full Of Possibilities
Unfortunately, we have no idea if these cubs were reunited with their mother. Once the fishermen left, the story ended. Maybe one day the fishermen will return and give us an update on their friends. For now, we just have to believe that fate saved these bears for a reason, whatever that may be.
Survival is a struggle for bears. According to research, six of the eight species of bear alive are considered endangered. With these two bears still alive, there is hope for the future of these animals, and hope is a beautiful thing!