UPDATE: A woman driver told Atascadero police she saw the bear come out of some bushes, and she tried braking to avoid the animal before striking it with her vehicle.
Sgt. Gregg Meyer said that police believe another driver may have hit the bear as well before the woman did, and the bear “had one broken leg.”
Meyer said it’s rare for a bear to enter a freeway, though bears, deer, mountain lions and other animals live in the local mountains and surrounding rural areas.
ORIGINAL: Atascadero police shot and killed a black bear this morning after it had been hit by a car on Highway 101.
The incident began just after 7 a.m. when police got multiple calls about a black bear in the area of San Jacinto and Arizona avenues in Atascadero, said Sgt. Gregg Meyer of the Atascadero Police Department. Officers responded and tried to tree the bear or corral it.
However, the bear ran west toward the freeway which was about a mile away, jumping over fences as it went. The bear jumped over the freeway barrier and ran into the northbound traffic lane of Highway 101.
The bear continued running across the freeway and was hit by at least one car. When police arrived, they shot the wounded animal as a public safety precaution and to alleviate its suffering, Meyer said.
“Freeway traffic was stopped for a short period of time and Fish and Game is recovering the animal,” Meyer said.
When the incident began, police initiated their Reverse 911 system to alert residents in the area but stopped it when the bear was shot. Police were concerned because children were walking to school at the time and people were out walking their dogs, Meyer said.
Bear and deer are frequently seen around the city, mostly west of town in the coastal mountains, Meyer said.