By Logan Smith

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — A driver was taken to a hospital and a bear killed following a pre-dawn collision at the beginning of Friday morning’s rush hour.

Copter4 found an SUV in the middle lanes of southbound South Kipling Parkway near the intersection with South Jellison Street in unincorporated Jefferson County. Troopers from the Colorado State Patrol blocked the left two lanes at the scene, limiting passing traffic to a single lane on the right.

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The bear was located approximately 30 feet in front of the SUV, lying against the jersey barrier.

“When its dark you know you need to be extra vigilant, your dusk and dawn periods are when these accidents are bound to happen,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay.

CPW says they handled and gave the bear, No. 416, green ear tags to six years earlier. They say they removed the bear from a property in Conifer in 2015 after the landowner says their goats were killed by a bear.

Officers say up to five bears had visited the property, and black hair was found in a fence on the property. Two days later, they trapped bear No. 416 with brown hair and realized they might have had the wrong bear.

They later relocated it to western Clear Creek County near the Continental Divide.

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CPW says they do not believe the bear ran into any more trouble since then and considers the relocation a successful effort.

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“While it is difficult to know why this bear decided to travel into Littleton, it is possible this bear was kicked out of its territory in the high country by a younger bear. Because it was older, it may have been more willing to take risks and travel further in search of food, especially during the months leading up to hibernation, going across busy roads and highways where it eventually traveled down in elevation into the metro area,” CPW said in a news release.

Wildlife officers say they received a report of a bear in the same area two days prior to the crash.

Damage to the front of the vehicle was seen under the glare of officers’ flashlights. CSP Master Trooper Gary Cutler told CBS4 the call came to their dispatchers at 5:47 a.m.

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The extent of driver’s injuries is unknown.

Sadly, a large concrete culvert providing a route that would have allowed the bear to avoid traffic could be seen directly under the section of road where the accident occurred.

“Bears will use those sometimes, but unfortunately not this time,” Jason Clay, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told CBS4.

Clay said another bear was killed by a vehicle collision near Larkspur this morning. CPW collected the bodies of both bears for analysis and to possibly salvage the meat from them.

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CPW says on average, 106 bears have died in vehicle collisions each year since 2000. Interestingly, the year with the most deadly collisions was in 2020 with 181.

Logan Smith