2018-07-26 / Front Page

Car hits bear, which shakes it off

Collision in S-B Township
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


THIS JUVENILE bear was struck by a pick-up truck and became jammed under the front bumper. The bear walked away with no apparent injuries. THIS JUVENILE bear was struck by a pick-up truck and became jammed under the front bumper. The bear walked away with no apparent injuries. Elaine Herman met one of her neighbors this week.

But she didn’t invite him over for coffee.

Herman’s vehicle struck a small, black bear Tuesday morning near her home on Co. Rd. 633.

“It was a close encounter of a third kind,” she said.

Herman was southbound on the county road just south of Eckerle Road when the bear darted out into her path.

“I had just been near the school so I wasn’t going fast … maybe 45 mph,” she said. “He was so fast. I saw his head come out of the bushes and tried to brake, but I heard a thud and went out to see him jammed beneath my front bumper.”

Herman, 58, called the county dispatch center at 10:31 a.m., and deputies as well as county animal control officer Wayne Kalchik responded.

“They were there in less than five minutes,” she said.

Among these responding was Sheriff Mike Borkovich.

“It was alive but stuck under the bumper,” he said.

Initially, it looked as if a tow truck would be needed to lift Herman’s 2011 Ford pick-up truck off the bear, who Borkovich said looked a juvenile.

“The bear was dazed, was under the truck and was panting pretty heavily,” Borkovich said. “So I gave him a bottle of water, and held it like I would a baby bottle.”

While the bear was drinking, a deputy slowly maneuvered the pick-up back and forth and was able to drive it away from the bear.

“He was able to jockey off the bear,” Herman said.

The “rescue” took about 30 minutes total. There was no blood or other external signs of injury.

After a drink, the dazed bear stood up and was coaxed to return to a swampy area alongside the road.

It was the second reported car/bear accident in Leelanau County this month.

A young female bear was killed July 12 on M-22 within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

According to the Leelanau County Road Commission, a road crew picked up the bear’s body after an accident on M-22 near Basch Road in Glen Arbor Township.

The driver of the car was not injured.

In September 2017, a female black bear was hit and killed in Leland Township. The 5:30 a.m. accident took place on M-22 near Sugarbush Lane.

That bear weighed between 200 and 225 lbs.

Social media has lit up in the past week with residents reporting bear sightings. In fact, the night before the crash a “huge” bear was seen crossing Co. Rd. 651, one mile south of Bodus Road.

Although Herman had seen video of bear numerous times taken from a trail camera near her home and scat, Tuesday’s encounter was a first-of-a-kind.

“It was the cutest little cub,” she said, relieved it wasn’t serious injured in the accident. “I’m so glad he was able to get up and go. We need all the wildlife we can get.”

Little damage to the truck was reported.

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