Stopping traffic to help a momma bear and her cubs, that haphazardly trailed behind, a New Hampshire trooper was shocked when he watched her leave the smallest one behind.
Trooper Thomas Owens, with the Carrol Police Department, responded to a call in New Hampshire’s Bretton Woods–part of White Mountain National Forest–about a black bear that was pacing back and forth on the road, trying to herd her newly born family of four wobbly babies to the other side.
Recognizing the family of bears, Owens stepped out of his patrol car and watched a while, quickly figuring out why momma bear was so hesitant about moving on.
One cub was smaller and slower than its siblings, and struggling to cross the road, it stopped to rest. Owens could see the young bear was in distress, and quite weak.
Momma bear stayed with her baby for a few minute, trying to coax it into following her. But unable to lift its tiny body, mom made a heartbreaking decision, marched across to her other three cubs, and disappeared into the woods.
Staying with her sick cub meant she’d put the rest of her litter in danger, so having no choice she abandoned her sick baby in the middle of the road.
Knowing he had to help, Owens took a huge risk when he approached the baby. Though troopers are trained in dealing with dangerous situations involving wildlife, he also knew that momma bears, known to be fiercely protective of their young, might return.
Acting swiftly, he scooped the little one into his arms and dashed to his patrol car.
The department jokingly described Owen’s rescue: “In short, it is a very delicate process that involves distracting mom, running fast with a screaming bear cub, and hoping you make it back into the cruiser in time!”
Owens took the baby to the New Hampshire Fish and Game (NHFG) rehab center where it would hopefully recover, but before he left, he took an adorable selfie with his new furry friend.
“After doing some bear traffic control, we had to take one bear cub in for Fish and Game to be rehabilitated as it was too weak to keep up with its mom and siblings,” the department wrote in a Facebook post. “This leaves her with three other very healthy cubs that she can now focus on and take care of.”
The post continued to mention that there were five babies, which is very unusual for a litter of bears that commonly come in squads of two to three.
The next day, Town of Carrol Police Department teamed up with NHFG, and the located the other very sick and weak cub, that mom abandoned earlier.
The two bear cub siblings were reunited at the NHFG rehab, where they recovered.
“They were the ‘runts’ of the group,” the department explained, “Five cubs is very rare for a bear to have and an even bigger problem trying to care for them all, just way too much for this poor mom bear trying to take care of them all.”
Jane Langmaid was stuck in her car during the pileup, watching Owens on the road, the family of bears not far from where he stood.
Capturing the incident on video, she captioned her post, “I had the pleasure of watching the officer and cubs in action.” Explaining the road crosses the national forest, sprawling across almost 800,000 acres of protected wilderness, Langmaid added that what happened “demonstrates the problem as well as the great love of the bear family and care by the officer.”
Recently the police department gave curious fans an update on the bears, saying the babies “were both released successfully after being rehabilitated.”
Momma bear was also been seen roaming around with her healthy three cubs.
While praising the bravery of their officer, the department also delivered a warning, “…and remember, never pick up or handle wild animals, this was done under the care of Fish and Game. If anyone runs into an issue with wildlife, please, please, please contact your local PD or Fish and Game to assist!”
Trooper Thomas Owens is a real hero! He risked his own life to help the fuzzy new baby, and later its sibling.
We hope the two bears are living happily in the woods, maybe now with cubs of their own. We are so thankful that humans like Trooper Owens exist!