Black Bear Killed on Ashton Hill on Saturday

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Black Bear Killed on Ashton Hill on Saturday

Black Bear killed on Ashton Hill August 24, 2019
Black Bear killed on Ashton Hill August 24, 2019

Published in the Standard Journal, August 25, 2019

 ASHTON – A vehicle pulling a camper hit and killed a female black  bear on Highway 20 at mile post 368 around 7 p.m. on Saturday, reported  the Henry’s Fork Wildlife Alliance.

“These tragedies are far too common. Speed limits and crossing signs are not enough,” the Alliance said.

According to the organization, the driver swerved to miss the bear.

  “The  bear was moving very quickly and collided with the side of the camper.  The bear hit the trailer and was dragged. There was fur caught on the  stairs leading up to the camper. The bear was dead very quickly, if not  immediately after it was hit,” the alliance told the Standard Journal.

The  organization reported that one of its officials followed not far from  where the accident happened. The official spoke with the driver who was  visiting Yellowstone National Park with his family from out of state. No  one in the truck was injured, and the family expressed sorrow that the  bear had been killed. The driver wasn’t at fault, reported the  organization.

A Fremont County Sheriff’s Deputy arrived shortly  after the accident. The bear’s carcass was retrieved, but it wasn’t  known by whom, said the alliance.

The organization reported that  it was relieved that the carcass didn’t go to waste, but said the best  scenario would have been to have prevented the bear’s death in the first  place.

The alliance believes the accident could have been avoided  had there been some type of a wildlife crossing placed on the Highway.

“This  is absolutely heartbreaking, infuriating and preventable with the  proper wildlife crossings and associated fencing,” it stated.

Some  type of a crossing, whether it’s an overpass or an underpass, needs to  be in place to prevent such accidents from happening in the future, the  organization said. 

“They have been shown to be effective with  associated fencing. It’s to help wildlife successfully cross. It’s not  only a benefit to wildlife themselves but would be a benefit to humans.  The economic impact associated with these collisions is very great,” it  said.

The alliance also noted that in the area where the bear was killed is a “hot spot for road kill.”

The  idea of a wildlife overpass proved extremely unpopular among Fremont  County residents last year. In an advisory vote – that carried no legal  clout – residents voted overwhelmingly against the crossings. The Idaho  Transportation Department had proposed putting in such, but following  the vote and the ongoing public opposition for the crossing, ITD opted  against doing so.

Over the weekend, Facebook lit up with comments  about the bear being killed on highway. Postings ranged from “It makes  me angry that people don’t slow down” to “Would a couple of wildlife  overpasses really ruin the lives of our locals? US-20 is getting so busy  and scary.”

One Facebook poster suggested the following: 

“I  have a great idea, let’s put an Express tunnel entrance at Ashton Hill,  with strategic exits at island Park, Mack’s Inn, etc., that ends on the  far side of the park. Speed limit of 80 mph, and crossing Gates/Sonic  repellent to keep wildlife out of the tunnels. Then take the rest of the  20 that is then bypassed, and make it 20 mph, so you can just go slow,  enjoy the drive, and not risk animals,” he stated

Others  stated that overpasses wouldn’t help prevent wild animal deaths. One  respondent stated that the bear was just feeling blue. 

“This bear  was clearly depressed and suicidal she probably just got dumped by her  boyfriend and couldn’t deal with her difficult bear life,” he said. 

Last  week, ITD announced plans to lower the speed limit from 45 to 35 as it  runs past Ashton. Such was a result of last months’ three-car accident  at the Highway 20/Highway 47 intersection that sent several people to  the hospital.

Where the bear was killed, the speed limit is  normally 65, but with construction going on from Chester to the Ashton  Hill, the speed limit has been reduced in places. It wasn’t known how  fast the driver was going when he hit the bear.

The alliance notes that there are no homes or subdivisions where the bear was killed. 

“We  have recommended to ITD in comments on their seven-year transportation  plan, that they consider measures to keep wildlife off the road in this  area when they upgrade the highway,” posted the alliance on its Facebook  page.

The alliance added that an Idaho Fish and Game report  stating that in 2018 around 161 animals – the majority being mule deer  and elk – had been killed on Fremont County roads. It didn’t specify the  number of animals killed where the bear was hit.

“Cars are an incredibly large threat to these species,” the organization stated.

For more information on the alliance visit