In Wise County, Virginia two people were transported to the hospital with minor injuries after a collision with their SUV and a bear weighing more than 700 pounds according to Assistant Sheriff Grant Kilgore of the Wise County Sheriff's Office, who reported that the accident occurred Thursday evening on Route 23 close to Hoot Owl Hollow which isn't far from Norton.
Maria Stidham of Big Stone Gap was one of the two injured people and she stated that "she felt the bear came out of nowhere. I think about deer on that road, but I've never gave it a second thought about a bear. We hit that bear and it was almost like hitting a block wall, we came to a complete standstill."
With airbag burns on her face and an injured left leg, Stidham added that she was grateful to have survived the crash which totaled the SUV, causing damages in the amount of $12,000.
Kilgore further added that at the request of the owner to take possession of the bear, the Commonwealth Conservation Police were contacted who granted the request.
According to the Virginia Game Officials the bear weighed in at 792 pounds and officials reported that they would be trying to confirm if this bear breaks the current record for the largest Black Bear to have been found in the Commonwealth.
According to the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries the American black bear is found only in North America. There are approximately 900,000 black bears in North America. Black bears reside in every province in Canada except for Prince Edward Isle, and in at least 40 of the 50 states in the US. In the eastern United States, black bear range is continuous throughout New England but becomes increasingly fragmented from the mid-Atlantic down through the Southeast.
Depending on the time of year, adult female black bears commonly weigh between 90 to 250 pounds. Males commonly weigh between 130 to 500 pounds. The largest known wild black bear was from North Carolina and weighed 880 pounds. The heaviest known female weighed 520 pounds from northeastern Minnesota.