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Driver who hit bear near 210 Freeway not to blame, officials say

August 27, 2012 |  2:56 pm

The driver who hit a young bear in La Cañada Flintridge on Sunday is not to blame for the accident, a California Department of Fish and Game spokesman said Monday.

The bear was hit by a car about 7 a.m. Sunday at Foothill Boulevard and Vineta Avenue, in front of a McDonald’s restaurant, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The bear climbed a fence and headed into the bushes before authorities arrived but was spotted about 1 p.m. a few blocks away, behind a Starbucks at a shopping mall on Foothill and Gould Avenue, near the 210 Freeway.

Law enforcement officials, Fish and Game authorities and volunteers with Montrose Search and Rescue established a perimeter around the bear, which was in the foliage between the coffee shop and the 210.

The bear was a male, about 150 to 200 pounds, and about 2 years old, according to Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan.

Hughan said the bear had enough strength after the accident to go about 150 yards from where it was struck, but it wouldn’t have been able to obtain enough food to survive in the wild. At 4 p.m.,  Fish and Game authorities tranquilized the bear and determined its injuries were life threatening.

“Its hips were severely damaged, legs broken, it had internal bleeding,” Hughan said. “There’s no reasonable way to heal or cure or repair that much damage to an animal.”

The driver who struck the bear was unhurt, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

“Imagine driving down the road at 7 o’clock in the morning , you haven’t had your coffee yet and a bear comes out in the road. It’s very much a panic situation,” Hughan said. “I don’t think anybody’s blaming the motorist. It’s just bad luck for the bear.”

Auto accidents involving bears are rare in Southern California, Hughan said.

“It happens in Northern California all the time, and it happens in the Eastern Sierras all the time,” he said. “There are more bears, and people tend to drive faster out on the country roads.”


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-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News