BB-12, the first black bear found in the Santa Monica Mountains, has died after being hit by a car on the 101 Freeway Thursday night.
“When one of our radio-collared animals is killed en route, it’s sad but not too surprising after 20 years of studying these animals in the region,” said Jeff Sikich, the lead field biologist for mountain lion research at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). “Roadkill is the number one cause of death for our mountain lions, so there’s no reason to believe it would be much different for other large carnivores.”
BB-12 was between 3-4 years old. He wason April 23 in the western Santa Monica Mountains just south of the 101 Freeway. The National Parks Service believed the black bear lived in the area for two years, but most likely originated in the Santa Susana Mountains north of Highway 118, most likely crossing major highways before being captured and tracked.
Sikich said BB-12 successfully crossed major roads five times in the short time NPS tracked it. A few weeks after being collared, the bear successfully crossed the 101 Freeway, Highway 23, and the 118 Freeway before returning to its natural habitat in the Santa Susana Mountains.
“Unfortunately on the sixth time he was hit,” said Sikich.
According to the NPS, his last recorded location was in the Wildwood neighborhood of Thousand Oaks. Authorities said a park service biologist discovered BB-12 at about 10:30 p.m. on the median strip of the 101 freeway. His carcass was transported to a freezing facility.
On more than one occasion, BB-12 crossed 101 and the Pacific Coast Highway to skirt the shores ofdazzling biologists.
“He provided valuable information in the short time we studied him,” said Seth Riley, head of SMMNRA’s animal division. “Extensive animals like this young male bear are especially useful for learning about connectivity in the region, and this was certainly true for BB-12, given the five main roads (crossings) he made in such a short time.”
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