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Motorist kills bear in Grand Forks County

Be careful out there, motorists in Grand Forks County. Critters are on the move, and you never know what's going to run across the road.

The latest unusual collision of wildlife and wheels occurred about 6:30 a.m. Friday, when a motorist hit and killed a bear on Grand Forks County Road 33, about halfway between Manvel and Gilby, N.D., near the intersection of County Road 3, authorities say.

Lt. B.J. Maxson of the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department said a driver on the way to work reported hitting the bear. Authorities found the bear in the south ditch of County Road 33, Maxson said, and it took four people using a North Dakota Game and Fish Department winch to hoist the bear into the back of District Game Warden Blake Riewer's pickup.

"Our best guess is it was coming from up north somewhere," Maxson said.

The bear was taken to Bismarck, where Game and Fish Department staff will conduct a necropsy to learn more about the animal. The bear was a male, and authorities estimated it measured 5 to 6 feet in length, Maxson said.

No further information was available, Maxson said, because authorities no longer have to file reports on routine vehicle-animal crashes. The driver of the vehicle wasn't hurt.

Game and Fish staff will weigh the bear, and Maxson said he could only speculate on its weight.

"A lot," he said with a laugh. "They said it was huge. I didn't get any pictures from it or anything. I would guess probably in the 400- to 600-pound range."

A bear recently has been spotted on a trail camera in the Mekinock, N.D., area, which isn't far from where the animal was killed. It's likely the same bear, Riewer said.

"I'm pretty sure it's the same one," he said. "It's right in the same area."

The bear collision isn't the first unusual wildlife incident to be reported in Grand Forks County. Saturday night, a motorist hit and killed a bull elk on U.S. Highway 2 not far from the airport, and Thursday afternoon, Riewer helped sheriff's deputies chase away a moose on the Grand Sky property near Grand Forks Air Force Base.

The moose, a young bull, was no worse for the wear as it headed south toward Emerado, N.D.

In addition, Riewer said, a hunter reported seeing a mountain lion on a trail camera along state Highway 15 west of Thompson, N.D.

It's been that kind of a week—for whatever reason—a convergence of wildlife not typically associated with the Red River Valley.

"You find Bigfoot, and we'll have the blackout card in Bingo completed," Riewer said.

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998.  A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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