msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 10/30/2008 12:14:47 PM ET 2008-10-30T16:14:47

Police in North Carolina had to halt traffic on a highway to help a mother bear get to her cub after it was struck and killed by a vehicle.

Officers in the town of Woodfin halted cars for about 20 minutes after the mother bear had failed twice at trying to get her 80-pound cub off the busy highway.

"She was trying to figure out what was going on. She didn't realize the cub was dead," the Asheville Citizen-Times reported Woodfin police Sgt. Dawn Roberts as saying.

The cub was struck Tuesday afternoon and the driver didn't stop. "It was killed straight out," Roberts said.

Officers stood with rifles while others pulled the cub to the side of the road near the mother.

The mother then "grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and pulled it off the roadway," Roberts said. "She pulled it off into the woods. She was tending to it."

Officials were afraid the mother bear, which had another cub with her, would wander back onto the interstate.

Mike Carraway, a state Wildlife Resources biologist who went to the scene, helped scare the bear away and collected the cub's body to analyze it after the mother abandoned it.

The cub appeared to have been healthy, he said, adding that the bears might have been raiding bird feeders at nearby houses.

He said that 15 bears have been hit by vehicles so far this year in and around the local county, a number that's about average.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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