A driver traveling on Highway 101 near Gaviota struck and killed a black bear Thursday night, according to California Highway Patrol.
The crash occurred about 7:20 p.m. on the southbound side of the freeway, just north of the Gaviota Tunnel, said Sgt. Tom Pontes of the CHP’s Buellton office.
The driver of the vehicle was not injured in the crash, Pontes said.
State park rangers responded to the scene, moved the bear off the road and disposed of it, said Lt. Jamie Dostal of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The bear is not the one that’s recently made appearances in dumpsters at nearby rest areas, Dostal said.
KSBY reported Wednesday that a bear from Gaviota State Park has been spotted climbing into a large dumpster near the rest stop on the southbound side of Highway 101.
But the animal killed in the crash was estimated to weigh about 100 pounds — smaller than the 200-pound dumpster-diving bear, which also has distinctive white markings, Dostal said.
Due to the curved road and a creek that runs parallel to the freeway, it’s not uncommon for drivers to hit mountain lions and bears in that area, Dostal said. Because drought-like conditions persist, animals may venture farther out in search of food and water.
He encouraged motorists who encounter animals in the road to apply their brakes and avoid swerving, which may send their vehicles into other lanes of traffic and cause more serious collisions.