CHP urges caution after numerous recent SR-299E bear strikes
SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — California Highway Patrol officials have reported an uptick in traffic collisions involving bears throughout the Intermountain area of Shasta County along State Route 299E, between the city of Redding and Burney area.
At least seven bear strikes and near collisions with bears have been reported to CHP over the last few weeks and officials are cautioning area motorists to use extra caution while driving along the winding, two-lane mountain roadway.
LEADING THE SCNS HEADLINES:
The most recent known bear strike, which did not injure the driver but resulted in the death of a 300 to 350 pound bear, happened around 3:20 p.m., Friday, Sept. 11, near Hillcrest Dr. in the Montgomery Creek area.
Although the vehicle that struck the bear was later able to drive away from the scene after the incident was reported to CHP, the bear was left dead along the side of the highway and later had to be removed by wildlife officials.
A bear was killed after a collision with a vehicle on SR-299E near Hillcrest Dr. in the Montgomery Creek area last Friday. Don Fennell photo
Other recently CHP reported bear strikes along SR-299E happened on Sept. 4, about two and a half miles west of the highway’s rest area; on Sept. 1, just east of the rest area; on Aug. 29, between Hatchet Summit and the scenic overlook; and again on Aug. 26, between Hatchet Summit and the same rest area.
Each of those bears were believed to have survived those incidents, and were last seen running from the area into the nearby surrounding forest.
Another bear strike, which involved a big-rig and proved fatal for the bear, occurred earlier this month on SR-299E near SR-89, when a bear was hit and run over by the semi truck’s trailer. That driver was uninjured and did not report substantial damage to her big-rig or trailer.
About the Sept. 4 bear strike, McArthur resident Lisa Compton Valdez warned area residents on social media to use caution; writing, “Watch out for these crazy bears!!”
“We just had a 400-lb black bear run onto 299 from below the highway, about 2.5 miles west of the rest area,” Valdez explained; joking that she was hauling a dairy cow when the bear strike occurred and the bear “must have wanted a beef dinner.”
“It ran across the road and ran into the side of our stock trailer in the eastbound lane, then turned and went back across the road and down the embankment,” described Valdez.
“The trailer and cow are fine, although she was a little hyper when we got to the Pit River Gas station in Burney,” Valdez continued; writing in her social media post, “Mr. bear seemed okay too, as he ran back from where he came.”
An Alturas woman was uninjured after hitting a large bear on SR-299E between Hatchet Summit and the highway’s rest area on Aug. 26. Les Potter photo
The driver of the Aug. 26 bear strike, reported to be a woman from Alturas, was not as lucky after her bear encounter.
Although uninjured after the collision, which happened about five miles west of Hatchet Summit and one mile east of the highway’s rest area, the woman’s small Chevy Hatchback was left heavily damaged and had to be towed from the scene.
The bear the woman struck was last seen running westbound from the area toward Big Bend Rd.
Another near collision with a bear, which was captured on a driver’s dash camera, occurred Aug. 13 when a large bear was nearly struck while running in the westbound lane of the roadway.
Video filmed from inside the vehicle as it rounded a blind curve (and can be viewed below) showed the bear running along the westbound lane of the winding, two-lane mountain roadway just east of Fenders Ferry Rd.
With inches to spare, the driver managed to swerve around the bear, narrowly avoiding a collision.
Regarding the recent increase in bear sightings and collisions, various officials who have responded to the different accidents reported by SCNS have speculated that fires surrounding the Intermountain area may be pushing additional wildlife into the community; which could account for the recent increase in strikes of bears as well as deer and other forest animals.
Contacted for more information, a CHP representative said the best way to avoid vehicle versus wildlife strikes is to drive within the speed limit or slower, depending on roadway and weather conditions; to have fully functioning front lighting equipment while driving at night; and to drive with high-beams on when not faced with oncoming traffic, to allow for better visibility and increased response times.
CHP also advised against swerving to avoid wildlife strikes while traveling in the mountains, so as not to cause a worse accident or potentially hit other, oncoming vehicles.
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Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.