Only cub of beloved grizzly bear killed by a car in Wyoming

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The death of the young animal, known as Snowy for its notably white face, comes at a fraught time for grizzly bears and their advocates

The sole cub of one of the USs most beloved grizzly bears was reportedly struck and killed by a car Sunday evening in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, prompting mourning amongst lovers of the mother animal known as 399.

Wyoming Wildlife Advocates announced the news in a Facebook post: 399s 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.

Park officials will not have official confirmation that the bear cub hit and killed on Sunday evening was 399s cub until they conduct DNA testing.

However, based on the cubs marking, the bears marking, and the bears location, were reasonably confident, about the identification, said Andrew White, spokesman for Grand Teton National Park.

399 removed her cubs body from the road, park officials said in a statement.

The death of the bear cub comes at a fraught time for the grizzly bears and their advocates in the western US.

The federal government has proposed removing them from the list of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. Activists are attempting to forestall the delisting, while wildlife officials in Wyoming and Montana have begun preparing for the possibility of legal hunting of the bears.

This incident with 399s cub shows just how vulnerable park bears in Greater Yellowstone are, Roger Hayden of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, which opposes delisting grizzlies, told National Geographic.

399, a 20-year-old grizzly bear, rose to fame in 2006 when she began spending time with three cubs near the roadways in Grand Teton park, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

Over the years, the bear maintained her presence in accessible parts of the park, and became a favorite with photographers and tourists. 399 was the subject of the 2015 book, Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek, whose authors call her the wolds most famous bear.

In 2007, 399 mauled a hiker and was nearly killed by park officials, but her life was spared when the hiker spoke up in her defense, according to National Geographic.

This May, the bears fans were delighted to see 399 emerge from hibernation with a single cub, especially after a hunter had claimed over the winter to have killed her.

To see these two bears together was magical, said Deby Dixon, a wildlife photographer who moved to Wyoming five years ago after reading an article about 399. Id never seen her play with her cubs before, but these two played. They were close together. It was almost like they were buddies.

Its sort of like a member of the family when you watch them grow up you watch them interact with their mother, travel around and that kind of thing, said Dixon.

The area near the accident site has been closed by park officials, and will remain closed for a few days, White said.

For the next day or two [399] can be fairly unpredictable, White said. After a day or two, shell become accustomed to not having a cub.

Sunday was a particularly deadly day in Grand Teton National Park; an adult female black bear was also struck and killed by a car earlier in the evening.

Cars strike about 100 large mammals a year in the park, according to White, but deer, bison, and elk are much more likely to be hit. Just one or two bears are struck by cars per year on average.

These unfortunate incidents are an important reminder for all of us to slow down and be vigilant when we travel through the park, said park superintendent David Vela in a statement. Vela advised park visitors to abide by speed limits and be particularly careful around dawn and dusk.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/20/grizzly-bear-399-cub-killed-car-wyoming-grand-teton-national-park