A popular black bear that had been spotted in several Massachusetts communities has been found dead, wildlife officials announced Thursday.
According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the bear --affectionally dubbed "Boo Boo" -- died from its injuries after it was struck by a van on Route 195 in Marion two weeks ago.
The black bear had been tramping around the South Shore this spring, becoming a minor celebrity in the process. Sightings were reported in a number of towns including Hingham, Attleboro, Norfolk, Taunton, Scituate, Cohasset, Duxbury and Marion -- where the bear was ultimately hit on June 24.
MassWildlife crews initially searched the Route 195 area the same day witnesses reported seeing the black bear run into the woods immediately after the collision, but they were unsuccessful in locating the injured bear.
It wasn't until Tuesday when biologists searched the area for a second time that they discovered "Boo Boo's" remains in tall, thick brush.
At the time of the crash, state police officials said there was “no reason to think” the bear involved was “Boo Boo," but biologists said Thursday they are confident it is.
The bear was struck by a van, owned by Alert Ambulance Services, that was taking an elderly man from New Bedford to a doctor’s appointment. The driver of the van and the elderly passenger were not injured in the crash, police said, but the vehicle sustained front end damage "Boo Boo" was fatally injured.
According to MassWildlife, bears live in and near densely populated areas and roadways throughout the state. The agency estimates there are about 4,500 black bears living and raising their young from Interstate 495 to the Berkshires.
"For the most part bears and other wildlife successfully navigate the dense network of roadways using culverts, passing under bridges and overpasses as well as crossing the pavement on a regular basis," the press release stated. "However, accidents can happen even to the most experienced road navigators, whether wildlife or people."
The agency said about 30-40 bears are killed each year in vehicle collisions. During a two-year period spanning from June 2018 to July 2020, MassWildlife logged reports of 83 bear/vehicle collisions.
"Unfortunately, bears, like deer, coyotes, turtles, and other wildlife, are subject to collisions with vehicles," the agency said, while noting that the vast majority of wildlife collisions occur on interstate and state highways. "High traffic volume and high speeds are the challenges facing wildlife when navigating roadways."