Two bears die after being hit by vehicles
Add two to the bear death count in Tahoe and Truckee.
One bear was killed Wednesday afternoon and another Thursday morning. Both were attempting to cross Highway 89 to reach the Truckee River and were hit by oncoming vehicles.
Wednesday’s hit injured the bear, but did not kill him. A sheriff’s deputy euthanized him because his wounds were too severe, said BEAR League Executive Director Ann Bryant.
Thursday’s hit was more direct, killing the bear right away, Bryant said.
Twenty bears have been hit so far this year. That’s already surpassed the record for collisions with the burly animals. Nineteen bears were hit in 2005; that was the most for any given year until this year; 20 have been hit in 2007, so far.
“It’s real high for this early in the year,” said Bryant, noting that seven bears have been hit on Highway 89 this year. “Usually, we have that number in September and October.”
Bryant said more bears are coming down to the Truckee River or Lake Tahoe – and crossing roads to do so – because mountain creeks and streams are drying up.
“The animals have not evolved to know how to stop and look both ways,” Bryant said. “For right now, we have to be responsible and realize that we’re tampering with nature here.”
Bryant stressed that drivers should pay attention to the sides of the roads and look for movement during the day, or reflecting eyes at night.
“They don’t usually run real fast, so if you see movement on the side, slow down,” she said. “Be paying attention, for crying out loud.”
Hitting a bear can cause major damage to your vehicle, Bryant said, though no severe personal injuries have yet been reported from the accidents, she said.