Tagged black bear hit, killed on 101 Freeway

A black bear that was being tracked by the National Park Service died after it was hit by a vehicle on the 101 Freeway in Ventura County on Friday, authorities said.

A driver first reported the bear to the California Highway Patrol and, around 10:30 p.m., a NPS biologist found the carcass on the median.

The male bear, believed to be 3-4 years old, had a GPS radio collar that was attached in April when he was captured in the western Santa Monica Mountains south of the 101 Freeway, NPS said.

BB-12 black bear
This National Park Service photo shows BB-12 when he was captured and collared in April 2023. (NPS)

“When any of our radio-collared animals get killed on the road, it’s sad but not that surprising after 20 years of studying these animals in the region,” said Jeff Sikich, the lead field biologist for the mountain lion study at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “Roadkill is the number one source of mortality for our mountain lions, so there’s no reason to believe it would be much different for other large carnivores.” 

Sikich said BB-12 had crossed major roads successfully five times in the short time they had been tracking his movements.  

“On the sixth time, he unfortunately got hit,” Sikich said.   

BB-12 had also visited the beaches in Malibu a couple of times. His paw prints were found near Leo Carrillo State Beach in early June.

BB-12 Black Bear
This National Park Service photo shows BB-12 when he was captured and collared in April 2023. (NPS)

His last known location was in the Wildwood neighborhood of Thousand Oaks around midnight on July 20.

“He provided valuable information in the short time that we studied him,” said Seth Riley, the wildlife branch chief for SMMNRA. “Wide-ranging animals like this young male bear are especially useful for learning about connectivity in the region, and this was certainly true of BB-12, given the five major road crossing that he made in such a short time.” 

Caltrans is currently constructing the Wallis Annenberg Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing in Agoura Hills with the aim of reducing wildlife fatalities on the 101 Freeway.

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