Famous Grizzly Bear's Only Cub Tragically Killed
Now, this world-famous bear is mourning the loss of the last cub she'll likely ever have.
On Sunday night, "Snowy," Grizzly 399's single cub born this year, known for his distinctly blonde face, was hit by a car near an area where Grizzly 399 was commonly spotted - Pilgrim Creek. Snowy was simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Grizzly 399 then dragged the cub's body away from the road. Only after Grizzly 399 had wandered away from the cub's side could park officials finally intervene to assess and remove the young bear's corpse. Reportedly, the mother was seen moving "erratically" in the aftermath.
"The Park Service closed the road leading into Pilgrim Creek to give her some space," Bernie Scates, a wildlife photographer who was at the scene, told National Geographic. "It's just really hard to see 399 alone, as if she's waiting for the cub to catch up." The area of the park where Snowy was killed is expected to remain closed for a few days.
Park officials are awaiting DNA test results to confirm the cub's relationship to the famous bear.
Last spring, Grizzly 399's emergence from hibernation, with Snowy in tow, was especially welcomed by her fans, after a hunter had claimed to kill her during the winter, The Guardian reported. This fact alone is testament to the unfortunate history the 20-year-old mother bear has had with humans, while adding to her mystique among visitors.
"Grizzlies like 399 spend time close to roads to be safe, yet sometimes roads cause their deaths," Roger Hayden, managing director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, told National Geographic. "They are tolerant of people, yet people can cause their deaths - especially if the federal government allows states to hunt them."
There are about 700 grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area today, but the memory of Snowy, who was one of them, continues to be honored.
"399's cub, known as Snowy or Spirit by the bear watchers of Grand Teton, was adored for its antics and notably white face and will be sorely missed," Wyoming Wildlife Advocates wrote on Facebook.
"The death of this cub is especially tragic since Grizzly 399 is nearing the end of her reproductive life, and sadly she has only replaced herself in the population with one adult female, Grizzly 610," the post read.
Watch this video about a bear cub who made an incredible comeback after losing her mother: