Driver OK after hitting bear on I-25

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A black bear was struck and killed by the driver of a 2010 Chevy Impala Saturday on Interstate 25 near San Acacia.

Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Myers: The front of Jaclyn Myers 2010 Chevy Impala was damaged when she hit a black bear that was reportedly trying to cross Interstate 25 Saturday night. Myers sustained minor injuries, but the bear was killed on impact.

Jaclyn Myers, the driver, said she sustained small injuries, a seat belt burn on her shoulder and was a little startled by the incident but was basically unharmed.

Myers was driving in the left-most lane of the interstate when she struck the bear. She said her car spun around a bit, after impact with the bear, before it came to a stop a little further up the road. The bear lay dead or dying on the median some few hundred feet back.

“I was just driving down the interstate about four miles from my house and (the bear) ran out in front of me,” Myers said. “I literally didn’t see it until I hit it. I called 911 because I was really disoriented, and they (emergency services) were really good about keeping me calm.”

Myers said initially she thought she hit a deer because all she could see was the brown backside of the animal.

“No one in this area had really ever hit a bear,” Myers said. “I was really lucky that it didn’t do more damage. They said it was really good-sized. The whole situation was really bizarre.”

Myers said the driver’s side of the car front was “smashed in,” but the only actual damage it sustained was to the radiator.

“It’s not unexpected to see a bear in that area. It’s not terribly far from bear habitat,” said Rachel Shockley, a New Mexico Game & Fish spokesperson. “Unfortunately, there are a large number of bears killed every year.”

Most black bears, the department reported, are easily more than 200 pounds and the largest ever found in New Mexico was more than 450 pounds.

Since 2011, bear fatalities from being struck by cars has increased significantly, according to New Mexico Game & Fish. The average number of bears killed by automobiles from 2001 to 2009 was 17; the average number killed from 2010 to 2013 was 28.3. Total number of bears killed by other means such as hunting have increased from an average of 350 to about 750 within those respective time frames.

“Bears travel quite a long distance. That particular bear did have a green ear tag, and he or she probably had been trans-located,” Shockley said. “So it could have been doing anything; the bear may have been looking to breed or historic range or food or going down to the corridor to do a number of things.”