Two bear cubs hit and killed on U.S. 40 in Steamboat

Dylan Anderson
Steamboat Pilot & Today
A pair of bear cubs, along with a third that is not in the image, look for a way back to their mom on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, on Maple Street in downtown Steamboat Springs. The three bears dined on a crab apple tree before they decided it was time to dash off. It was not clear if these were the same cubs that were killed after being hit by a vehicle in Steamboat on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022.
John F Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Two black bear cubs were killed on U.S. Highway 40 near Anglers Drive in Steamboat Springs just after 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Steamboat Springs Police Sgt. Rich Brown said one of the cubs had already died when officers arrived and the other cub was badly injured. After consulting with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, officers were advised to put the injured cub down.

Brown said there were long skid marks on the road where the cubs were hit, suggesting the vehicle could have been a semi-truck, but its driver did not stop.

“They thought maybe someone had tried to avoid the bears and unfortunately hit them both,” Brown said. “We consulted with Parks and Wildlife, and they told the officers to put the other bear down. Then they asked that we remove them because the mother was still around.”

When Steamboat resident Paul Bruggeman came upon the scene on Wednesday, he saw the mother bear still in the road.

“The mama bear just didn’t know what to do, you know. She was just running back and forth,” Bruggeman said. “It was awful.”

Bruggman pulled over and called police, who were already responding to the incident.

Several other motorists pulled over as well and tried to get drivers on U.S. 40 to slow down as they approached the scene. The area is near where Fish Creek flows under the highway and has lots of commercial activity.

“It’s so frustrating,” Bruggeman said. “The balance between humans and nature, you just … I wish there was some way to prevent it.”

Before Wednesday’s incident, six bears had been euthanized in Routt County so far this summer, according to previous reporting.

In August, a Steamboat resident shot a bear after the animal entered his home. Another bear was hit and killed on Rabbit Ears Pass.

This time of year, bears spend as much as 20 hours a day eating, as they try to fatten up before denning up for the winter.

“It’s that time of the season,” Brown said. “There a lot more wildlife out at night and vehicle and wildlife collisions are happening all over.”

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