The National Park Service said a black bear caught on wildlife cameras in the Santa Monica Mountains is the first confirmed in the area in more than a century.
The park service said two separate wildlife cameras at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Malibu Creek State Park captured photos of a black bear wandering the area July 26, more than a century after the mountain range’s last resident population of bears died out in the 1800s.
The park service said there have been scattered bear sightings reported over the years in the Santa Monica Mountains, but no confirmed resident bears.
“There’s a few sightings here and there throughout the years, but we think that generally they’re absent from the area,” Joanne Moriarty, a park service wildlife biologist, told KTLA-TV. “This is definitely evidence that we have one in the mountains now.”
The park service said researchers do not yet know where the bear came from.
“We unfortunately do not know why or how the bear arrived here. If it did come from near the Sand Fire, it would have not only crossed the 101 and 118 freeways, but also Interstate 5. That would be quite an accomplishment!” the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s Ranger Zach said in a Facebook post.
Officials said researchers are checking other wildlife cameras in the area to see if they can identify the route taken by the bear to reach the park.
“Malibu Creek State Park is over 8,000 acres of open space and is connected to a much larger network of habitat,” Craig Sap, district superintendent for the Angeles District of California State Parks, told the Ventura County Star. “If this bear decides to stay, let’s see what we can do to coexist with it.”