Bear That Fought Off Attacker Found Dead in Cave

Mother bear battled male to protect cub
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2022 5:55 PM CDT
Bear That Fought Off Attacker Found Dead in Cave
A wildlife worker makes his way into the cave.   (Natureleza Castilla y Leon)

The fate of a bear seen fighting valiantly to save one of her cubs was tragic, but "these are things that happen in nature," says Guillermo Palomero, president of Spain's Brown Bear Foundation. In June, hikers in the northern Castile and Leon region recorded video of the mother bear struggling with a much larger male bear that apparently wanted to kill the cub to bring the mother back into heat, which is common behavior during mating season. Both bears tumbled down a cliff. The 480-pound male bear died of his injuries and the mother, wounded in the fight and the fall, took refuge in a cave system with the cub, the Guardian reports.

Regional wildlife authorities say that after they found the male bear's body and determined that the mother and cub were still alive around 50 feet inside the cave, "food and water were placed in the cave to help them recover with as little interference as possible." But after signs of life faded, rangers and bear experts tried to use a drone to find the animals. The bodies of the mother bear and two cubs were found at the bottom of a 108-foot crevice in the cave system last week, per the Guardian.

The Brown Bear Foundation says the second cub hadn't been seen since days before the fight, and it's possible it fell into the crevice before the clash occurred. Palomero says the limestone cave system is riddled with holes "like a Gruyère cheese," El Pais reports. Autopsies will be carried out to confirm the cause of death. The foundation says there are around 330 bears in rugged regions of northern Spain and another 70 in the Pyrenees between France and Spain. (More bear stories.)

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