It was pacing back and forth right there on the road. These enormous animals blended into the shadows of the night with flawless camouflage.
These terrifying creatures were all too noticeable during the day. What was it doing here? Something seemed wrong as he drew near. He then realized he needed to move quickly.
Stuck In Traffic
Traffic was growing minute by minute that day, and the highway was in complete disarray. State Trooper Thomas Owens was caught in this gridlocked traffic when people lost their composure, and car horns started blasting.
His gut told him something was wrong, so he drew closer. But as he did so, he noticed a shadowy figure lurking in the bushes.
As a child, Thomas was fascinated with everything to do with vehicles. On weekends, his father took him to car shows, and he was obsessed with the high-speed chases he watched on the news.
Every day after school, he switched on the television, hoping to catch a glimpse of a police chase, even though he never knew how it ended.
TAB4Some of these police pursuits ended in tragedy, but the vast majority ended in justice. Law enforcement often caught the criminals in time, restoring community peace and safety.
But Thomas’ mother was always concerned about her son’s fascination with watching these high-speed criminals. She had every right to be.
Getting His License
News.com.auThomas was highly eager to get his license when the time finally came. He passed his driving test on his sixteenth birthday.
The set of car keys nearly had to be pried out of his hands by his mother. She could not bear the idea that her son would develop a dangerous driving habit and have an accident.
Despite being a young boy, Thomas was not in any way irresponsible. His mother told him, “The town is small, Thomas. You can wave goodbye to the truck if we catch one whiff of you being reckless.”
Thomas was well aware of the dangers awaiting him on the road, but he could never have predicted that someone close to him would become a victim.
Something Is Wrong
myPoliceThomas enjoyed cruising around his neighborhood and often offered to pick up and drop off his friends from school.
He assured his mother he would be safe and kept his word. But one day, when he arrived home, he did not see his mother’s car in the driveway. A sudden shiver ran up his spine.
His body tingled with panic as he made dozens of calls before learning the truth. His mother had been in a hit-and-run and had been hospitalized.
This hit close to home for him, and he couldn’t believe someone could be so negligent. His life had been greatly affected by this occurrence in various ways. He knew what he wanted to do with his future now.
Thomas realized precisely what he wanted to do after high school. All his friends were planning to attend colleges in and out of state, but he knew he wanted to stay right where he was.
His friends and family were not shocked when he announced his intention to become a state trooper.
Thomas left fast driving behind him because of his years of driving experience and the accident that injured his mother. Thomas was all too aware of how dangerous driving really was and how it seriously affected the lives of innocent people.
Nevertheless, he had no idea that one day he would run into something on the road for which he could never have been prepared despite all his training or life experience.
He had become an exemplary State Trooper, but even with those years of training under his belt, Thomas had never dreamed of encountering something like he did that day.
As he gripped the wheel in the bumper-to-bumper traffic, he had no idea what was going on up ahead. Still, his instincts were screaming that something was terribly wrong.
Thomas’ first instinct was to assume that someone’s car might have broken down or someone had a little fender bender up ahead, and that was what was causing the delays on the road.
But, as he rolled closer, he got a terrible feeling. And what he saw in his path quickly turned into a terrifying and once-in-a-lifetime encounter.
The figure on the road was enormous, and he instantly recognized the hulking, shaggy shape as a dangerous bear.
The problem was that people were getting out of their cars to investigate what was going on, and Thomas couldn’t do anything but yell at them from a distance to get back to safety. But no one was listening!
Bretton Woods – where Thomas had grown up and resided next to– sprawls across 700 acres of land. The land is home to 200 species of birds alone, so it’s no surprise that the area became a protected wilderness.
But Thomas was about to encounter the biggest animal in the woods – the danger was right there in front of him.
Sightings of these black bears were common in the wooded area, but they usually didn’t bother anyone in the suburbs and stayed to themselves.
These animals are very dangerous, and everyone in the community knew that. Still, even with all of Thomas’ extensive training, nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to face.
The Black Bear
State Troopers were trained when it came to the theory of dealing with dangerous animals, but still, meeting with one face to face can be a completely different story.
Standing in the middle of the road and towering over the cars was the biggest bear Thomas had ever seen. But what on earth was it doing there?
Aside from the occasional rogue bear, these creatures usually hid in the woods and kept to themselves. But this enormous black bear was pacing across the road and creating chaos.
Thomas yelled for everyone to stay where they were, but still, something nagged at him. Why was this bear out here confronting cars on the road?
What To Do?
Thomas did the only thing he could do – he got out of his car and started to approach the bear to try and assess the situation.
Commuters were now instructed to stay in their cars where they were safe, but Thomas was not. He was on foot, walking towards one of the most feared wild animals in the world.
Something Is Not Right
It seemed like the bear was not going to go anywhere. Completely unbothered by the cars and commotion, it was still there, pacing back and forth.
Thomas instructed everyone to turn their cars around and go back the way they came – they needed to give the bear space. Still, Thomas had no idea what the problem with the bear was.
Cars began to turn around, freeing up space for Thomas to approach and take a closer look. He mustered all his courage and forced himself to keep getting closer.
That’s when he saw it. Now, he knew why this bear had no fear of humans – she had something a lot more critical she needed to protect.
When Thomas took a closer look, he spotted four other, smaller black shapes that meant the big black bear wasn’t alone.
The four cubs paced along the road, three of which were staying close to their mom’s side. However, one little cub had stopped a few feet away and was sitting right in the middle of traffic.
Not Going Anywhere
The little bears were very young, Thomas could see that they wobbled slightly as they walked but still, they could do it on their own.
The little bear that sat in the middle of the road resting didn’t seem to have enough energy to keep going. That is when the huge mother bear did something unexpected.
Although Thomas had grown up in the area, he had never seen a bear with three cubs – let alone four! Surely the mother bear couldn’t leave her baby sitting on the road?
He could see how the mother of the stranded cub walked up to it and nudged it with her nose every now and then; as if trying to show it the way. Still, the cub wouldn’t – or couldn’t – move.
Minutes went by, and the mother bear still tried to show the little bear the way, but something was wrong. The little bear wouldn’t get back on his feet, and that is when the mama bear knew she had to make a tough decision – she was going to leave him behind.
Thomas couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. But, as soon as the mama bear was out of sight, he knew he had to help the poor little cub.
He Needed To Help
When the mama bear finally disappeared into the treeline, Thomas ran to the cub’s side and tried to help it move. It wouldn’t, and whatever was wrong was becoming worse by the minute.
The cub’s eyes were closing as if it was extremely tired – or worse, very sick. Thomas knew he had to save the poor creature, so he picked it up and rushed back to his squad car.
On the way to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Center, Thomas couldn’t help but think of what he had witnessed. Why would a mother bear ignore all her fierce parenting instincts and abandon her baby on the road like that?
But he couldn’t worry too much about that now – he could only hope he wasn’t too late. The cub grew limper in his arms, and he knew time was running out.
Thomas later discovered the logic behind the mother bear’s decision to abandon her sick cub – If she had stayed with him on the road, she would have put the rest of the litter in danger.
Even though that didn’t justify abandoning her cub, it did make sense. She couldn’t put her entire family in harm’s way.
News of Thomas and the rescued cub spread across the town, but then, officials gave Thomas shocking information. This baby was not the only one who had been abandoned.
The other officers had seen that mother bear before. And there weren’t four cubs by her side, she originally had five! Thomas knew exactly what he had to do.
Into The Woods
Thomas knew he had to search for the other cub, so he talked to the officers and was met by more state troopers accompanied by multiple K9 units.
They needed to find the other poor cub, and with an incredible stroke of luck, it wasn’t long before they managed to locate it. It wasn’t far from its mother’s crossing location.
They found the fifth cub, who was also in poor condition. But when they arrived at the vet, the experts knew exactly what to do. They hooked the little one up to an IV to medicate and rehydrate him and put him with his brother on a heated pad for warmth.
Still, one question lingered in everyone’s minds: what were they to do once the cubs were healthy? They couldn’t be bottle-fed forever.
They Didn’t Stand A Chance
The little bear cubs in the wild – sick and without their mother – would definitely not have stood a chance if Thomas hadn’t intervened and gotten them the help they needed.
“Typically, the cubs would stay with their mother for about two years,” Andy Blue, the campus director of San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center, explained.
In Danger Without Their Mom
“Cubs can be weaned at six to eight months but remain with their mother to learn to hunt and forage,” Andy continued. “
Without their mother to protect them, young cubs of this size can be predated by other bears, mountain lions, coyotes, and other predators,” he said. Luckily, Thomas happened to be in the right place at the right time.
The Black Bears Of New Hampshire
American black bears are the only bears found in New Hampshire. While they are omnivorous, their diet is largely plant-based.
It is estimated that there are around 4,800 to 5,000 black bears living in the state. Although black bears are classified as a medium-sized species, they can reach an adult weight of a whopping 600 pounds. But these cubs were severely underweight.
Black bear cubs are born in early February every year in New Hampshire. Six months later, they should weigh at least 30 pounds.
If a bear cub doesn’t reach a healthy weight in this time, the staff at the wildlife center know that they have experienced some kind of trauma, are ill, or were part of a large litter. Because these two cubs only weighed 25 pounds when they arrived, they had a long road of treatment rehabilitation ahead.
Both cubs had severe hookworm infestations. But thankfully, the little cubs made an unusually speedy recovery after receiving fluids and medication.
Their carers put it down to treating them in time and having each other for company. Most rescued animals take time to recover due to stress and isolation, but luckily, these two had each other!
Doing Exceptionally Well
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Center intended to try and reunite the cubs with their mother once they were strong enough, if possible.
They did exceptionally well in captivity – having only weighed around 25 pounds when they arrived to growing to 120 pounds in a year. And, of course, there’s one person who has kept a keen eye on their progress every day!
The two young bear cubs were fed bear food (similar to dog food), fish, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables – that were donated from local grocery stores and farmers – as soon as they could eat solid foods again.
When they are released back into the wild, the center plans to fit them with radio collars and tags so they can always track their movements.
Giving Them The Best Chance
To make sure the cubs have the best possible chance of surviving when they are released back into the wilderness, the wildlife center has tried to keep their contact with humans to a minimum.
The bear cubs completed their quarantine period in an indoor enclosure, underwent more health checks, then were moved to a larger enclosure outdoors.
In addition to being well-fed and having each other’s company, the bear cubs had plenty of enrichment opportunities in their pen at the wildlife center, including a tire swing, climbing trees and logs, and even a mini swimming pool.
And, if there are any other helpless creatures in need of saving, Thomas vows to always be there. His experience with rescuing the bear cubs has impacted his life forever.
Protect And Serve
Thomas Owens never expected to encounter such a rare sight while he was on duty, or even ever in his life!
It’s a strange sight to see 4 cubs together, and it is even stranger to rescue one cub, let alone two! If it wasn’t for his bravery and quick thinking, the two cubs might not have made it.
Thomas has become dedicated to protecting all the citizens of Carroll, New Hampshire, but he has made sure to include all residents in his efforts – including those who walk on four legs!
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.