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Bear dies in traffic accident

• Authorities don't know if it's the one spotted in Saugus

Posted: June 18, 2008 1:20 a.m.
Updated: August 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Less than 24 hours after a Saugus woman reported a bear lumbering through her backyard, another bruin was spotted late Monday night on Highway 14 just north of Sand Canyon Road. This time it didn't get away.

Ashley Harris of Palmdale was driving her 2004 Honda Civic northbound on Highway 14 when her car hit a bear in the carpool lane at 11:59 p.m. Monday, according to officer Jose Nunez of the California Highway
Patrol. The bear was killed.

It is unclear whether the bear was the same one spotted in Saugus over the weekend, though it is the fifth time since Friday that a bear has managed to make headlines.

Harris reportedly did not initially know what she hit; early reports by the CHP stated that she hit a dog.

However, it was later confirmed that Harris struck a black bear.

The vehicle was badly damaged in the collision. According to the report, the impact of the collision forced the Civic's hood to fly off the vehicle and crash through the windshield, while the hood and headlights were crumpled.

Harris suffered minor cuts to her left shoulder.

On Friday, sheriff's deputies responded to three separate calls of bear sightings in Saugus. Two days later, another Saugus resident reported seeing one walk across her pool and jacuzzi covers.

It is difficult to pinpoint why there has been an increase in bear sightings in the area, though the overall lack of water may be a factor, said Ian Swift of the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

Specifically, he said that the combination of a water shortage, development and a shrinking habitat are all reasons why bears sightings are likely to be more frequent, especially in areas such as the Santa Clarita Valley, which abuts canyons and mountains.

"It's hard to say what the motivation is," Swift said. "In general, when you have drought conditions combined with development where you have watered gardens and pools, it is easy free water for the bear."


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