Huge bear killed after slamming into car

By Brian Sweeney
A black bear weighing nearly 600 pounds was killed Thursday night after it ran into a car on Route 30, just south of Grand Gorge. Tom Faraci, athletic director at Roxbury Central School, was heading home to Grand Gorge around 9 p.m. in a mix of rain and snow when the bear charged from the west side of the road and crashed into his car.
Mr. Faraci and his 14-year-old daughter, Kennedy, both saw the bear bound into the roadway, but he said there was no time to even hit the brakes. The bruin smashed into the front side of his Honda Civic. The impact caused the car to swerve, but the vehicle stayed on the road.
“It kind us pushed us toward the guard rails. I considered stopping, but didn’t know if bear was alive or dead,” Mr. Faraci recalled.
Fearing a dangerous situation involving the injured bear, Mr. Faraci proceeded about two miles to his home before summoning a Department of Environmental Conservation officer.
Mr. Faraci said that neither he nor his daughter were seriously injured, but Kennedy did sustain some slight abrasions from her seat belt.
Mr. Faraci said the crash caused considerable damage to the car, which was declared a total loss.
Roxbury Constable Steve Williamson was also called to investigate that evening but could not locate the injured bear. The bear, which apparently had kept moving for a short distance after hitting the car, was discovered in the ditch along Route 30 about 4:30 on Friday.
Constable Williamson said that, because of the size of the bear, MC Auto in Grand Gorge was called to hoist the animal into the pickup truck of DEC Officer Vern Bauer.
Mr. Faraci said he did not want the animal, so the DEC transported the bear to Borow’s Taxidermy in Delhi on Monday. The head was removed from the animal and will be kept by the DEC.
Prior to arrival at the taxidermist’s, DEC officials stopped to use a feed store’s scale to record the bear’s weight, which turned out to be 585 pounds.
Shawn Coston, an employee of Borow’s, said the lag time between when the bear died and when it was weighed, likely led to significant weight loss in fluids.
Mr. Coston said the fluid loss, plus the fact that the bear measured 80 inches from nose to tail, makes it likely that the bear actually weighed well over 600 pounds.
A tooth was pulled from the bear and is being sent to a laboratory which will be used the tooth to determine the bear’s age. Mr. Coston said the bear could be anywhere from 15 to 40 years old, but that the age test take more than a year to complete.
“It’s a shame that this bear had to meet its end by running into car,” Mr. Coston noted. “It was a great creature.”
Borow’s Taxidermy will maintain possession of the bear and, if it’s in good enough shape, the bear will be stuffed.
Wildlife Biologist Larry Bifaro classified the animal as “a big bear for this area,” but said it was not a state record. DEC records show that the title of largest bear in New York belongs to a bruin that tipped the scales at nearly 750 pounds.
Mr. Bifaro said an average male black bear weighs about 300 or 350 pounds. He noted that bears tend to gain a considerable amount of weight at this time of year. The biologist said it’s conceivable that the bear killed near Grand Gorge may have gained another 100 pounds before winter.
He said the DEC is measuring the bear’s head and will determine if its size is record territory. Mr. Bifaro said the skull size (width and length added together) could be close to the state record 22 5/16 inches.
Mr. Bifaro said that vehicle/bear accidents have been on the rise in recent years.
He said the DEC has been notified of approximately 15 traffic accidents involving bears this year, and noted, “that’s on the high side.”