A black bear was hit by a coal truck in Partridge last week, making it the seventh bear killed in traffic accidents in Kentucky since May, according to state wildlife officials.
Mark Marraccini, spokesperson with the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife, said two bears this year have died from traffic accidents in Letcher County, three in Harlan County, and one each in Laurel and Pulaski counties. Marraccini said seven bears died in Kentucky traffic accidents in 2009.
Marraccini said it is not uncommon for bears to venture onto roads, especially if bears have been trapped and relocated a few times. He said more bears have been involved in traffic accidents this year that have survived the trauma.
Mendy Boggs, of Partridge, was traveling two vehicles behind the coal truck around 5 p.m. on July 22 when the black bear ran into traffic about a mile above the Letcher/ Harlan County line.
“It just came running down off the hill and the truck driver actually thought he had a blow out on a tire,” said Boggs. “The bear came down the hill so fast that I wasn’t even sure what I had seen. I thought it was a huge dog. I didn’t know bears could move that fast. He was down the hill and in the road before I could even process what was going on.”
Boggs said after hitting the bear, the truck driver pulled off the road.
“The truck diver was really shaken up, too,” said Boggs. “He didn’t seem to have any idea what had happened at first. He thought a piece of tire may have hit my van but said that when he looked in his mirror he saw the bear.”
Boggs estimated the bear — which had two red tags in its ears — weighed about 150 pounds.
“The bear was probably about the height of a Rottweiler dog, just fatter,” said Boggs.
The front bumper of the coal truck was dented and Boggs doesn’t want to think about the damage that could have been caused to her van if it had been hit by the bear.
“If it did damage to something as big as a coal truck, I couldn’t imagine what it would do to my van,” said Boggs.
She said she still thinks bears are wonderful animals, but is now more afraid of them.
“I love it when I get the chance to watch one in its natural habitat, but to see how fast they can move and the damage even a small one can do makes me a little more afraid of them,” said Boggs. “I guess it’s just something we will have to learn to live with (bears), like we have with deer.”