Wildlife officials in Santa Barbara County say they have growing concerns about a bear that has been spotted on more than one occasion in a dumpster near the Gaviota Rest Stop area off Highway 101.
Jaime Dostal, a lieutenant with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, says the problem has been occurring for the last two weeks.
It’s believed the bear is coming from the Gaviota State Park area and looking for food in a large dumpster near the rest stop on the southbound side of the highway.
Dostal says Caltrans is ultimately in charge of the dumpster and despite requests to keep the lid closed, it remains open, attracting the bear.
Dostal says they worry the animal is going to have an encounter with a person at some point or even wander onto the highway and cause a crash.
If someone does see the bear, Dostal says they should not stick around to try to take pictures but should leave the area immediately.
Caltrans officials say they are asking staff to close the dumpster each day but are still looking into the issue.