MALIBU—Researchers have found evidence of a black bear in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is a rare occurrence, being that southern Los Angeles hasn’t had a resident bear population since the 1800s.
The National Park Service is reviewing a series of images of the bear that were taken via camera traps that are scattered through Malibu Creek State Park to monitor wildlife movement; the photos date back to July 26.
Bears have not inhabitated the Santa Monica Mountains since the 1800s, when grizzlies were extirpated from California. Black bears have settled in the mountains bordering the northern edge of Los Angeles, like the Santa Susana and San Gabriel Mountains.
“Malibu Creek State Park is over 8,000 acres of open space and is connected to a much larger network of habitat,” said Craig Sap, District Superintendent for the Los Angeles District of California State Parks, in a statement. He added, “If this bear decides to stay, let’s see what we can do to co-exist with it.”
It is rare for a bear to be found south of the 101 Freeway, but in 2014, a bear was killed when it was hit by a car on a 101 Freeway off-ramp in Westlake Village, according to reports.
Researchers will proceed to check camera traps near Liberty Canyon, where a wildlife crossing in Agoura Hills has been proposed, to see if the bear passed through the area.