Bear struck, killed on Conejo Grade

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BB-12 was the first Santa Monica Mountains bear collared and tracked by the National Park Service.

Source of this article, the Thousand Oaks Acorn, July 28, 2023

A young black bear was struck and killed while attempting to cross the Conejo Grade on the 101 Freeway Thursday night, authorities said.

The black bear known as BB-12 was struck and killed on the 101 Freeway in Ventura County.

The bear had made multiple visits to beaches in Malibu and crossed the 101 Freeway as well as State Routes 118 and 23, officials said. But “on the sixth time, he unfortunately got hit,” said Jeff Sikich, lead field biologist for the mountain lion study in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

The National Park Service has confirmed the bear was BB-12, the first bear biologists had captured and radio-collared in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The male bear was hit at around 9 p.m. July 20 near the California Highway Patrol weigh station in Thousand Oaks, witnesses said via social media. A driver on the highway saw the incident.

“Tonight around 9 p.m., I was driving the 101 North near the scales and suddenly saw a huge, dark brown animal run into the highway,” wrote a witness on

“I was able to slow down and avoid it, but it was hit by the car beside/behind me,” the person wrote. “I had never seen such a big creature on the highway. It looked like a bear to me . . . the sound of the impact was so loud.”

Biologists caught the 210-pound bear April 23 in a natural area of the western Santa Monica Mountains south of the 101 Freeway.

At that time, they gave the animal a physical exam, collected blood and tissue samples, measured its body and attached an ear tag in addition to the GPS collar.

Scientists estimated the bear to be about 3 to 4 years old and believe he’d been living in the area for a couple of years.

“(BB-12) appears to be the only bear here in the Santa Monica Mountains, and he’s likely been here for almost two years based on our remote camera data,” said Jeff Sikich, lead biologist for the park’s two-decade-long mountain lion study, in May, when NPS shared the news it was studying the bear.

“This seems to be our first resident bear in the 20 years we have conducted mountain lion research in the area. It will be interesting to see how he shares the landscape with our other resident large carnivores,” Sikich said.

The nearest population of black bears is in the Santa Susana Mountains north of the 118 Freeway. As recently as Sun., July 16, law enforcement officers responded to a report of a bear sighting on a residential street in Simi Valley just north of the 118 Freeway.

A Thousand Oaks resident in the Wildwood area on May 17 shared video via social media of a bear in her backyard and scaling her fence.

In July 2021, a young black bear was seen lumbering along Reino Road in Newbury Park. Since then, images of a bear have been seen on wildlife trail cameras in half of the Santa Monica Mountains—from Malibu Creek State Park to the range’s western border in Point Mugu State Park. Biologists said BB-12 may be the same bear.

Bear deaths on local roads are rare, but vehicle strikes are the leading cause of death for mountain lions in the National Park Service study area.

Since 2022, nine lions have died on area roads, six were radio-collared. P-81, a 4-year-old cougar, was the most recent death, likely struck by a vehicle Jan. 22 on the Pacific Coast Highway near Las Posas Road in the western Santa Monica Mountains. It was the 34th mountain lion to die on roadways since 2002, park officials said.


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