Bear crossing signs approved: Five signs to go up between North and South shore next month |

Bear crossing signs approved: Five signs to go up between North and South shore next month

Justin Broglio

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune file / Bob Bettencourt, left, and Han Carpenter of the Nevada Department of Transportation install a bear-crossing sign near Spooner Summit. Five new signs have been approved and will be put up next month.

Last year, 14 bears where killed on Nevada roadways – the highest number in recent history, said Carl Lackey, a biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

To help combat the number of bears hit by cars, the Nevada Department of Transportation, Washoe County and the BEAR League have finally received approval to install five new “Bear Crossing” signs on the South and North shores.

“These are unique signs,” said NDOT public information officer Scott Magruder. “They’re not something you normally see driving around the lake and we’re hoping when people see them they will ease up on the gas a little bit.”

The black and yellow warning signs will be installed in known bear crossing locations on State Route 431, 28 and around the Zephyr Cover area, said Magruder.

NDOT urban traffic engineer Mike Fuess said the signs should be installed within the next month.

“The biggest advantage to these signs is that they increase awareness,” Lackey said. “Whether or not people slow down is yet to be seen, but these signs will just be one more thing to remind people that we live in bear habitat.”

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Lackey said that since 1997, 66 bears have been hit by cars in the Lake Tahoe Basin, and every year he and fellow biologists respond to at least five bear collisions.

“These are all urban bears,” he said. “They spend the majority of their time in urban areas seeking garbage and they cross roads several times each night. It’s only a matter of time before one gets hit.”

Magruder said while deer and cattle remain the most common animals struck on Nevada roadways, bears are always a concern and hopefully these new signs will make people slow down.

“The goal is to not only save drivers lives, but bears as well,” he said.