Beloved bear euthanized after hit-and-run in California

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 8:43 PM EDT
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TAHOE CITY, Calif. (KOVR) – A beloved bear in California had to be euthanized after it suffered serious injuries in a hit-and-run crash.

Experts with California Fish and Wildlife said a vehicle drove off after hitting the 400-pound bear, affectionately known to area residents as Papa Bear.

The animal’s injuries were so severe that he had to be euthanized. Officials estimate Papa Bear was between 15 and 18 years old.

Ann Bryant, executive director at Bear League, said Papa Bear was left suffering in the snow, and she knew his chance of survival was “completely hopeless.”

“The disrespect shown to him, and just leaving him lying alive on the side of the road like he’s nothing, that really hurt people,” Bryant said.

While Bear League calls the driver’s actions immoral, California Fish and Wildlife said the hit-and-run wasn’t illegal.

“There’s no legal requirement to stop and render aid to the injured animal,” Captain Patrick Foy with California Fish and Wildlife said. “In fact, we really go as far as recommending against approaching an injured animal.”

However, while he doesn’t recommend approaching the animal, Foy said the best thing to do is call 911 and wait for help to arrive, which didn’t happen in this case.

Foy’s hope is that other drivers learn from this tragedy and remember to slow down.

“Drivers need to be cautious; they need to observe the speed limits and recognize that these bears can jump out at any moment,” Foy said.

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