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Rare white grizzly bear and its two cubs killed in separate car attacks in Canada

A rare white grizzly bear and its two cubs were killed on the same highway after being hit by cars in two separate incidents in Canada, officials said.

On June 6, Yoho National Park officials received a report of two cubs struck and killed early in the morning on the Trans-Canada Highway after crossing through a section of broken fencing in British Columbia.

That same evening, as workers repaired the fence to keep the animals away from the road, they saw the mother – tagged as GBF 178 and locally called Nakoda – “startled” at the sound of a train passing by the ditch.

She ran out of the ditch and onto the road “right in front of two vehicles on the highway,” Saundi Stevens, a wildlife management specialist with Parks Canada, said at a news conference Tuesday.

While one of the vehicles was able to “swerve,” the other was unable to react in time and hit the bear, she said. Nakoda ran back into the woods “with no visible injuries other than the limp,” leaving officials hopeful she would escape largely unscathed.

But nearly 24 hours after the incident, wildlife specialists received a “death signal” from the grizzly bear’s GPS collar, indicating she had not moved. Her death was confirmed on Saturday.

The white color in bears can be attributed to an unusual recessive gene, said Kris Hundertmark, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The independent in 2020. A recessive gene would have to be present in both parents to give the cub white fur.

The white cub belongs to the grizzly bear subspecies and is distinct from the Kermode bear, or ‘spirit bear’, which also has white fur, caused by a rare recessive gene, and is a subspecies of the North American black bear.

The team was “devastated” at losing the white grizzly bear and her cubs in such a short space of time, Ms Stevens said.

“Our Parks Canada wildlife management team has actually spent a significant amount of time, and I mean hundreds and hundreds of man-hours, managing Bear 178,” she said.

Responding to rumors circulating on social media that the bear returned to the highway because she was grieving the loss of her cubs, Ms. Stevens said: Nagoda “showed no signs of fear,” adding that grizzly bears sometimes eat their deceased cubs.

The wildlife team began tracking Nakoda in 2022 after she climbed the highway fence and has since pulled her off the road three times, the reported New York Times.

The national park also introduced a no-go zone and lowered the speed limit on a section of the highway to prevent nature lovers from clicking her photo and those of other animals staying there.

“We recognize that people come to see wildlife,” she said, “but there are safe ways to view wildlife to prevent this.”

Her death has raised concerns among the wildlife community.

“An emotional response,” says John E Marriott, wildlife photographer and co-founder of Exposed Wildlife Conservancy. “Photographers, tourists, everyone flocked out to see her. I think a lot of people have developed a very deep, emotional connection with her. For many people, she was the first grizzly bear they saw,” he told Canada’s Global News.

“To have this kind of thing all unfold over the last few weeks – first her cubs get hit and then within 24 hours she gets hit and then within another 24 hours she succumbs to those injuries – when I heard the news it was devastating. ”

According to Nicholas Scapillati, executive director of the Grizzly Bear Foundation, grizzly bear deaths are declining thanks to the efforts of conservationists and conservation groups, “but we need to do more for nature.”

“The parks are doing a great job in their efforts to protect bears, but it’s kind of a band-aid situation. What we really need to look at is how we approach our relationship with nature, with these wild places and these wild animals and give them the space and opportunity to live the life they need in the wild.

“We have to think a lot more about ourselves,” Scapillati told the Canadian newspaper.