NC deputy shoots 300-pound black bear in highway 'mercy killing'

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - A crash involving a motorcycle and a 300-pound black bear in coastal Pender County, N.C., ended with the bear being shot along U.S. 421 Monday night.

The N.C. Highway Patrol is calling the shooting by a Pender County Sheriff's Deputy "a mercy killing."

"The bear had a broken back. It was still conscious," said Trooper N. S. Hankins of the NC Highway Patrol. "It had to be killed."

Hankins says the crash "totaled" a $19,000 motorcycle and sent its driver to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The accident occurred at dusk Monday on US. 421 near NC 210, when the bear crossed into the path of two motorcyclists from nearby Dunn. "They were headed to Wilmington to get some doughnuts," Hankins said.

One of the two riders struck the bear, sending the motorcycle in one direction and the bear in the other.

A Pender County sheriff's deputy responded and found the bear just off the highway, where it had crawled into a ditch, Hankins said.

The deputy, who is a hunter, realized the animal was seriously injured and shot it, he said.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation was responsible for collecting the carcass for disposal, he said.

A similar bear-involved crash occurred two weeks ago on another coastal highway in nearby Brunswick County.

On May 23, a 200-pound bear was struck and killed in the early morning hours on N.C. 904 near Sunset Beach, reported the Brunswick Beacon. The driver did not stop, leaving the bear dead on the side of the road, the newspaper reported.