A grizzly bear that has become a common sight for visitors to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for the past 20 years has lost her famous cub to a hit and run accident likely on Sunday night. 

The mother known as 399 has attracted attention over the years because she prefers to stay close to the roadways. This has made her the subject of more than a few wildlife photographs. But that habit comes at a heavy price as it’s estimated she has lost half of her 16 cubs to negative human encounters, according to an article in National Geographic.

In the latest incident, the cub known as “snowy” for its patch of white fur was struck while crossing a road near Pilgrim Creek in Grand Teton. After the accident witnesses said the mother frantically tried to attend to the injured offspring and even dragged his body off the roadway into the brush. 

The story of 399 tugged at the heart strings of wildlife lovers, who fear that this cub could be her last. At the age of 20, she’s ancient for bear years. Born in 1996, she represents in many ways the successes of conservation over the years going back to 1975 when grizzlies were first put on the endangered species list.

Down from 136 individuals bears there are now likely up to 1,000 grizzlies in the 22.5 acres that encompass Yellowstone and Grand Teton. 

In 2007, 399 mauled a hiker while protecting her cubs. If not for the victim pleading with park officials not to euthanize the bear, she would have been killed. In 2015, a hunter claimed to have shot 399 for spite. But when she emerged again this year from her den, her mystique only heightened.