A black bear was killed in a collision north of Bragg Creek on Highway 22 Aug. 10 after it was struck by a small car in a construction zone.
The bear, a sow, left behind two orphaned cubs that were spotted near the roadway calling for their mother after the collision, said Redwood Meadows Emergency Services fire chief Rob Evans, who tended to the scene.
The driver of the vehicle, he added, was unharmed. Though the vehicle suffered significant damage.
"We looked after the driver first and then turned our attention the bears," Evan said. "We contacted Fish and Wildlife and stayed on the scene trying to keep the cubs away from the road at least until they arrived.
"They were hanging around on the opposite side of the road as their mother, who was unfortunately dead in the ditch. They were calling for her and it was quite heartbreaking to see."
Emergency crews kept their vehicles parked on either side of the highway to ensure traffic slowed while driving through the area.
Evans says the cubs eventually ran across the road and into the brush after a few hours and the sow was removed from the ditch by Fish and Wildlife.
According to the fire chief, the cubs appeared to have been weaned by their mother.
"She appeared to have weaned them off because she was totally dry," he said. "So she likely hadn't been nursing for a while, which is a good thing for the cubs."
Evans said the cubs appeared to be about 70 to 80 pounds in size and described them as "healthy looking."
The Cochrane Eagle has reached out to Fish and Wildlife to confirm details pertaining to the bear and cubs and will update this story.
Evans remains hopeful that the bear cubs may be old enough and healthy enough that they could survive in the wild if they stick together.
To prevent collisions like this in the future, he reminded motorists that it's important to be alert in areas of abundant wildlife, such as Bragg Creek, and obey speed limits. The car that collided with the black bear did so in a construction zone set to 50 kilometres per hour.
"Pay attention for wildlife," said Evans. "Especially where we live, there's deer, there's elk, moose and bears on the road. Just be aware of animals coming out of the treeline – it can happen in the blink of an eye."