MERRILL (WAOW) – The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department says there were nearly as many car-bear crashes in the county last week as car-deer crashes.
The agency says it investigated three crashes involving bear and four involving deer.
The Lincoln County bear crashes happened on U.S. Highways 51 and 8 on Thursday and Friday nights. No driver was hurt, the sheriff's department said.
Deputy Mike Caylor says so far this year there have been 15 reported crashes with bear.
He says bear are not a new traffic hazard. In 2009, there were 35 car-bear crashes in Lincoln County and 26 in 2008.
Shelby Hiestand, a state Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist for Lincoln and Langlade counties, said Wisconsin had an estimated 9,000 bear in 1985 and the numbers had grown to between 16,000 and 20,000 by 2011, the most recent year of a new population estimate.
She said three bear crashes in one week is more of an anomaly than a common occurrence. It would be more worrisome if that many happened routinely.
“This time of year, with it starting to get colder, bear move around more searching for food,” she said. “They have to add food storage before going into hibernation.”