TRUCKEE — Lake Tahoe’s thriving bear population is very active and many of them are getting hit by cars.
Bears have been out looking for food following their winter slumber. It is also mating season and the time when juvenile bears are venturing off on their own for the first time.
All of this activity can put them in the path of moving cars and these collisions are not uncommon.
“Some years it just spikes up to the point where there’s 50 or 60. Some years, more normal would be maybe 25,” said Ann Bryant, the executive director of the BEAR League.
Bryant said already this season four bears have been killed by cars in the Tahoe area.
“But a lot of them really aren’t even speeding, it’s just the bears jump out,” she told FOX40.
On Monday, the Truckee office of the California Highway Patrol took a call about a bear hit by a car along Interstate 80 near the Donner Lake interchange. It likely survived and ran off because it was gone when officers got on scene.
While FOX40 was visiting with Bryant, she got a call from somebody reporting they had just hit a bear near Tahoma on Tahoe’s west shore.
“I know you feel bad, it’s very traumatic, but it sounds like he’s going to be fine,” she said to the person on the phone.
The caller said she saw the bear run away from the scene into the woods.
“We’ve had people just calling us in hysterics because they hit one. Sometimes they’ll be alive and sometimes they won’t, and it’s very traumatic to have that happen,” Bryant said. ”So, I think the message would really be: Be aware that you’re driving through a wilderness.”
If you see one bear cross the road, it’s a good idea to watch out for more because cubs could be following their mother.
If you do hit a bear, you can call local law enforcement, the Department of Fish and Wildlife or the BEAR League. It’s also important to keep the location of a dead bear just between you and those authorities so you don’t attract the attention of poachers, who look for opportunities to remove parts from bears and sell them on the black market.