Record Number of Bears Hit by Cars in Lake Tahoe this Month

Photo: California State Parks

A critical warning for anyone planning a trip to Lake Tahoe, as this year has witnessed a record number of bear-car collisions. In fact, around 20 bears have been struck in the past month alone.

“This year has kind of gone over the top already, and we’re not even into the busy season,” said Ann Bryant, the Director of the BEAR League, to SFGate. “It’s almost like every day we’re getting calls saying another bear was hit.”

While typically averaging around 50 car-to-bear collisions annually, this year has already seen over 40 such incidents, with the typically deadliest months of September and October still looming.

For the BEAR League, a non-profit focusing on safeguarding the Lake Tahoe bear population, the rising bear injury toll is heartbreaking. Bryant identifies several contributing factors, including an influx of tourists who may not be accustomed to bears crossing the roads.

“They aren’t so used to the fact that bears are crossing the roads where they’re going to be driving, and so we want to have them a little more aware and be watching for them,” Bryant urges. “We built our roads between the high side of the mountains and the lake side of the mountains, and we cruise around like we own it.”

The Sierra’s substantial snowpack this winter is another factor. It has forced some bears to seek lower elevations near roadways in search of food, bringing them dangerously close to vehicular routes.

A painful illustration of the issue occurred in late July when a bear family of four was hit, resulting in serious injuries to one bear cub. The BEAR League’s vigilance and care have led to the cub’s gradual recovery despite a lingering limp.

In the event of a collision involving a bear, advocates implore immediate action. Call 911 for prompt assistance. To discover more about how to safeguard these majestic creatures, visit the BEAR League’s website at

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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