Two bears killed in traffic collisions | SierraSun.com

Two bears killed in traffic collisions

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun
Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun file photoA sow and her cub walk in a meadow off Highway 267 earlier this summer.
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Add two more to the bear death count in Tahoe and Truckee.

One bear died Wednesday afternoon and another was killed Thursday morning. Both were attempting to cross Highway 89 to reach the Truckee River and were hit by oncoming vehicles.

Wednesday’s collision injured the bear, and a Placer sheriff’s deputy euthanized the animal because the wounds were too severe, said BEAR League Executive Director Ann Bryant.

Thursday’s collision killed the bear outright, Bryant said.

Even before the end of July, the number of bear-car accidents has already surpassed the record number in the Tahoe area. In 2005, a total of 19 bears were hit, the most for any given year until this year, with 20 bears struck by vehicles so far.

“It’s real high for this early in the year,” said Bryant, noting that motorists have struck seven bears this year on Highway 89 alone. “Usually, we have that number in September and October.”

Bryant said that more bears are coming down to the Truckee River or Lake Tahoe ” and crossing roads in doing so ” because the 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 need to 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 a motor vehicle, Bryant said. No severe personal injuries have been reported from vehicles hitting bears ” yet, she said.