A Colorado State Patrol officer shot a black bear Thursday morning after it was struck by a vehicle on a mid-valley stretch of Highway 82, officials said.
The bear was a one-year-old male, or possibly older, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson. A CSP officer responding to the crash, which happened around mile marker 18, “went ahead and shot the bear for humane reasons, as the bear was not going to survive its injuries,” CPW spokesman John Livingston said in an email.
Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to mile marker 50, which is five miles above the harsh campground outside Aspen, saw 107 traffic accidents. in 2021, 105 in 2020 and 183 in 2019, according to road fatality data from the Colorado Department of Transportation.
In only one of those years, 2019, was a bear recorded as killed on Highway 82. The bear was hit between mileposts 10 and 20, according to CDOT.
Piktin, Garfield, and Eagle counties are part of CDOT Region 3 covering northwestern Colorado. Of the 1,691 wildlife deaths from vehicle collisions in 2021, 16 were black bears, 13 of which were killed on Interstate 70, according to CDOT data. In this same region, 1,162 deer, 140 elk and 235 skunks were counted among road victims last year.
“Road mortality is high during years of natural food scarcity when bears must travel more widely in search of food and therefore encounter roads and vehicles more frequently,” according to the population management plan. black bear published by CPW in 2021.
CPW collects roadkill bears, but that was not the case this week on Highway 82. Instead, a licensed bear hunter who was passing by – archery season and State archery runs Sept. 2 through Sept. 30 — received permission from CPW to take the dead animal, Livingston said. By taking the bear, the hunter has reached the limit of the season.
“Shortly after, a hunter stopped and saw the bear on the side of the road and called the CPW office and asked to put a tag on it before our staff could pick it up. This hunter had a permit for a bear this year and decided to take that bear as his bear for the year,” Livingston said.
The hunter is required to have the bear examined by the CPW.
“The hunter will bring the bear to our office in Glenwood Springs to go through the mandatory screening process,” Livingston said. “Any hunter who harvests a bear is required to do so.”
Information about the make and model of the vehicle involved and whether any of its occupants were injured was not immediately available from the State Patrol on Friday.