Hit-and-run kills bear near Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe
Less than one month after a black bear was shot and killed in Incline Village, another one has died.
An unknown vehicle struck and injured a 3-year-old female bear south of Incline Village on Highway 28 on early Wednesday morning, May 31.
“Basically it’s a hit and run,” said Washoe County Sheriff Public Information Officer Bob Harmon. “If anyone might have seen anything, we would like to hear from them.”
Washoe County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of an injured bear in the Memorial Point area of Sand Harbor around 12:40 a.m. May 31, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
“Someone saw the bear and was concerned it would be a traffic hazard because it was a blind corner right there,” Harmon said.
Once deputies arrived on scene, they reported that the bear was breathing but unable to move, and was too badly injured to be saved.
“Deputies consulted with an NDOW (Nevada Department of Wildlife) biologist by phone as he responded to the location and they determined that the most humane course of action would be to dispatch the bear in order to stop it from suffering,” according to the statement.
Deputies remained on scene until the NDOW biologist arrived and took possession of the bear.
“This is the second bear killed by a car this year,” said Nevada Department of Wildlife Public Information Officer Chris Healy. “We had handled this bear last year and tagged her. She was in and around some garbage cans at Sand Harbor and we had not seen her since.”
Healy said there is no penalty for hitting an animal on the road, but that people do need to be careful.
“When you’re driving at night, all kinds of animals are out,” he said. “It’s a safety thing, not just for the bears but for the drivers.”
In 2016, a total of eight bears were killed in Nevada after being struck by vehicles, according to the department of wildlife. A total of 217 bears have been killed in Nevada by cars since 1997.
“We can safely say the majority of them are in the Tahoe Basin and what we do know is that often times they’re younger bears,” he said.
Bear accidents also tend to increase during periods of drought, Healy said, since animals need to travel around more during those times to find food.
“In 2011, when we had a great year for water and snow, we had only three bears hit and killed by cars,” he said. “Then you go to 2015 and we had 21 killed.”
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Department is asking that anyone with information regarding the accident contact the patrol division at 775-328-3350 or the secret witness program at 775-322-4900.
Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @akrhoades.