It’s been a bloody few weeks for wildlife in the Eastern Sierra.
On May 2, someone hit and killed a small black bear on U.S. 395 near the Caltrans station and McGee Creek exit south of Mammoth Lakes, leaving the dead bear lying on the side of the road.
According to Mammoth’s wildlife specialist, Steve Searles, the bear was likely one of several bears last seen in the Crowley Lake area.
During the past few weeks, the big red splotches that define a roadway deer hit started littering the highway.
On Monday, May 5, the carnage continued, this time injuring at least one person who was riding a motorcycle and hit a deer right after an SUV driver just ahead of the motorcyclist had swerved to avoid.
Within the same hour, according to the California Highway Patrol, another person hit and killed a deer, this time near the U.S. 395 and S.R. 203 junction.
Both deer happened to be pregnant, according to CHP Lt. Ron Cohen, bringing the deer death total to five.
It’s only the beginning of the wildlife season.
“Monday was a big deer day, yes,” Cohen said Tuesday at a Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting. “The driver of an SUV swerved to avoid a deer (north of Bridgeport near Buckeye Road), hit the deer, forcing the deer into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist. The motorcyclist was ejected. They took the person to Renown—he’s ok—but the potential for injury in this case was very serious. He was very fortunate; he was ejected at 60 miles per hour.”
“We cohabitate with them. They are in our backyard as a guest,” he said. “We have to learn to be more aware.”
The black bear that was killed last Friday was removed from the roadway sometime soon after 7:30 a.m., but not before locals who drove by the bear noticed others stopping to take photos of it—some even posing with the dead bear as if it were a hunting trophy.
“It was really kind of disgusting,” said one local, who did not wish to be identified. “People were posing with the bear, lots of other people were rubbernecking or stopping to look at the bear. It was getting kind of crazy. I called 911 and told them, ‘You better move this bear, or there’s going to be an accident.’”
Searles said he received dozens of calls about the bear as well, but he noted he has no jurisdiction outside of his 26-square-mile incorporated area of Mammoth Lakes boundary.
“My phone was ringing off the hook,” he said. “But in cases like this, I have to refer it to other authorities.”