Petition seeks return of grizzly to Calif.


By Susan Montoya Bryan, AP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An environmental group called on federal wildlife managers Wednesday to update a decades-old recovery plan for grizzly bears to ensure the animal’s return to the Grand Canyon and other areas of the West.

The Center for Biological Diversity, in a petition filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, accused the agency of using a fragmented approach as it tries to recover the threatened species. Efforts are currently focused on a fraction of the bear’s historic range, but the petition identifies 110,000 square miles around the West that could provide suitable habitat.

Those areas include a forested region straddling the Arizona-New Mexico border, the Grand Canyon, the Sierra Nevada in California, and parts of Utah and Colorado.

The recovery plan for grizzlies dates back to 1993. The Center for Biological Diversity says the plan needs to consider recent research that questions the long-term viability of the current grizzly population.

“The science is clear that, if we’re serious about recovering grizzly bears, we need more populations around the West and more connections between them so they don’t fall prey to inbreeding and so they have a chance of adapting to a warming world,” said Noah Greenwald, director of the center’s endangered species program.

A spokesman with the Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday the agency had not yet received the petition. He did not comment on whether the agency had any existing plans to update the grizzly’s recovery plan.

The agency did state as part of a review of the bear’s status done in 2011 that the recovery plan was outdated and it needed to consider other areas as potential habitat.

According to the agency, an estimated 50,000 grizzlies roamed between the Pacific Ocean and Great Plains during the early 1800s. Their numbers were drastically reduced as more pioneers headed west. By 1975, when the bears were listed, only six of the 37 separate populations that were present just 50 years earlier remained.

There are five areas where grizzlies are found today, including the Yellowstone region and along the northern Continental Divide.

Federal wildlife managers have had mixed success in trying to reintroduce larger species, such as the gray wolf.

Greenwald acknowledged there would be some opposition to the grizzly, but he said there seemed to be more reverence surrounding the bear.

“The grizzly is the mascot of the University of Montana, and you drive around Montana and it’s grizzly this and grizzly that. And in California, they’re on the state flag. They’re just such an iconic animal,” he said.



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Comments (22)
  1. copper says - Posted: June 21, 2014

    I’m far from a bear expert, but I’m pretty sure the California “Golden Bear” is extinct, if that’s the correct term for the disappearance of a sub-species.

    If the grizzlies want to come west to California and Nevada, I suppose they may, but encouraging an unpredictable and, by many accounts, crazy-ruthless, predator to inhabit an area struggling to maintain its wild places in the midst of human settlement, known in grizzly circles as dinner, doesn’t seem like a great idea.

  2. romie says - Posted: June 21, 2014

    Start off by repopulating Noah Greenwald’s neighborhood with the grizzly, and then the neighborhoods of the rest of the CBD employees, board of directors, and supporters.

  3. Level says - Posted: June 21, 2014

    Saber tooth tigers and wooly mammoths.

    I mean if were re-introducing extinct native species.

  4. Tahoehunter says - Posted: June 21, 2014

    I would love to see the return of Grizzlies in California, how fun would that be!

  5. Dogula says - Posted: June 21, 2014

    You know those bells that they tell hikers to wear when they’re out in the wilderness, to let the bears know you’re there so you don’t startle them?
    My friends in AK, where there are lots of assorted Brown Bears, call them “dinner bells”.

  6. Uncle Bambi says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    How much would tags be? Would it be a draw or general hunt? Season? Method of take?

    In any case, I’m in….. Grizzlies make great rugs.

  7. how bout this says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    Let’s take this one step further. Let’s get back to the good old days. Get rid of all noxious species, starting with League members, politicians first. Perhaps gov’t employees next, etc. Etc.

  8. Tahoehunter says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    Grizzlies can and will eat people, can you imagine even a small population of people eaters in a state like CA, the bears would never go hungry that’s for sure….

  9. Know Bears says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    Natural selection. Population control. They were here first.

    Brown bear and grizzly are the same thing. The grizzly is indeed on the CA state flag. Seems to me we should either re-introduce grizzlies or change the flag. It’s pathetic for the flag to depict a species that was hunted to the brink of extinction. (The brown bear/grizzly isn’t extinct; it just isn’t HERE anymore. I understand there was an early, MUCH larger and scarier bear that terrorized the original human residents of California, but that it is long extinct. Hunted to death, if I’m not mistaken.)

    Our son lives in grizzly country, and finds them fascinating and beautiful, but he does keep a rifle handy in case he has to save a human from one.

    I’m not a fan of guns, but I confess I’d be inclined to keep a rifle around if grizzlies return. They really do scare me — they’re so aggressive — but it does seem right to encourage their return. It wouldn’t hurt us to be reminded what life is like farther down the food chain. Humans have not historically occupied the top position, and only got there because of technology. Some consider that to be part of natural selection, and they have a point, but we mess with ecosystems at our own peril, and grizzlies are part of a healthy ecosystem, while we generally no longer seem to be.

  10. Justice says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    If there are no California Grizzlies what will they introduce, a DNA clone? Then put them on the valley floor around the campgrounds of Yosemite for the first test and after the carnage where next? This kind of rabid leftist thought, that they can somehow bring back an extinct species with a reintroduction is dangerous. This is all for PR and legal fundraising to file suits against government to receive tax dollars and legal fees. These groups should be laughed out of existence.

  11. copper says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    For a great introduction to Grizzlies, read “The Night of the Grizzlies” by Jack Olsen, a true story published in 1969 (and not to be confused with the movie of a similar name).

    I was backpacking in Glacier National Park in the seventies and happened to pick up a paperback copy of the book in a camp store – I thought it might be an interesting read.

    So late at night, by myself in a very small tent, and reading the book by flashlight, I suddenly realized that I was camped less than a few hundred yards from where one of the bear attacks occurred. It was, needless to say, a restless night – which gave me time to finish the entire book.

  12. copper says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    Wikipedia has a great article that describes the difference between the extinct California grizzly, often called the “California Golden Bear,” an apparently much larger sub-species of the grizzlies (aka “brown bears”)that live elsewhere in the U.S., including Glacier National Park.

    Even if you have an aversion to Wikipedia (I don’t), you’ll probably learn something from the article (I did).

  13. His says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    If you read historical journals from old California you will discover that the largest grizzly populations were in places like Napa Valley and in the Sierra foothills along the rivers. Good luck getting them back there!

  14. observer says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    You just have to have a little fun with things like this.

    While this is a whacky idea, I don’t think it is worth of much “damn liberals bruhaha”.

    It makes about as much sense as trying to make a democracy out of any middle eastern country that has a violent religious faction. So it is clearly a bi-partisan brain fart.

    Grizzly recovery will not likely happen. There would be so few of them, that, even if the agencies did decide to give it a try, there would be grizzly snipers by the hundreds taking them out, for the sport, for the rugs,for the perceived protection of people and livestock and just for the macho hell of it. They would probably take their pit bulls with them.

    Pit bulls are more numerous, already living in our communities and are much less predictable and dangerous.

    I’d take the bears over pit bulls any day.

    The grizzly proponents are perhaps of the same mental ilk as those who own pit bulls. They are wanting attention, to feel like they are in-your-face special, and to create a bit of a fear factor of them from ordinary citizens.

  15. KATHY says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    Good point Observer,I totally agree.

  16. rock4tahoe says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    Yes Copper. For anyone really interested, Ursus Arctos; horribilis, middendorffi, gyas, californicus and nelsoni are genetically the same species (no cloning is needed.) Prior to the Gold Rush days, and estimated 10,000 “Grizzly Bears” lived in California. The Bear Flag of California was introduced in 1846. The last recorded “Grizzly Bear” in California was shot near Tulare County in 1922. And by 1964, the “Mexican Grizzly Bear” was declared extinct.

    Years ago I learned of the demise of the Grizzly Bear and I remember asking my Grandpa what happened to the Bear on the State Flag. He replied “ignorance.”

  17. HIKERCHICK says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    Grizzly bears aren’t aggressive just for the sake of it. 99% of attacks on people are precipitated by people surprising bears or–worse–a sow and her cub. If you ask the Yellowstone guides they will tell you that moose and bison are more unpredictable and dangerous. Making noise (not wearing jingle bells) either by calling out or by clicking your hiking poles together occasionally will alert a grizzly that you are coming through and you will never see the bear that quickly stepped away from the trail. This is based on reading many books and from years of hiking in grizzly territory.

  18. copper says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    HIKER . . ., I’d suggest a read (or, as an apparent outdoors person, perhaps a re-read) of John McPhee’s book, “Coming Into the Country.” Not even remotely anti-wildlife, he provides a great summary and insight into dealing with grizzly bears. And, if you haven’t read it, based on your pseudonym, you’d almost certainly enjoy it. Thank me later.

    I do agree, however, that in bear country, regardless of the precise species, it’s best to make noise on the trail. Despite the prattling of the animal activists, bears (as well as most truly “wild”life) neither like us nor dislike us. They’re simply bigger than us, as well as most of the other critters they encounter, and plan to be and stay in charge.

    And while you’re at it, don’t forget my recommendation of “The Night of the Grizzlies.”

  19. HIKERCHICK says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    Thank you Copper. I have read Night of the Grizzlies and recommend it as well. I will look for McPhee’s book. Another good book is Mark of the Grizzly by McMillion–a collection of stories. Another author and expert on grizzlies, Doug Peacock, wrote that at any time a griz could kill a person who was mauled but they mostly don’t. He thinks that maulings are etiquette lessons from the bears to humans. “Knock on the door if you’re going to walk through my living room.” Makes sense.

  20. Tahoehunter says - Posted: June 22, 2014

    Does anyone remember the bear in the Outdoorsman? If I remember right that was a 12 foot AK Brown owned by Russ Mcllean, not sure if he killed it though, quite a story behind that bear, it was even stolen at one time, Jack Martin would know all the details.

  21. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: June 23, 2014

    Tahoehunter, It may have been John Marchini that shot that bear. Him and Russ Mclellan were good friends so who knows who actually bagged it. Marchini told me a story how he shot a bear in Alaska but I don’t know if it’s the same one that was on display at The Outdoorsman.
    Sadly Mr. Marchini and Mr. Mclellan have gone to the happy hunting ground in the sky and the Outdoorsman is now a supermarket. Those two guys were great!!! Generous to the max, funny and always kind. Miss you guys!
    You’re right tho, if anybody would know who shot that big grizz, it would be Jack Martin. Happy hunting, OLS

  22. Toxic Warrior says - Posted: June 24, 2014

    Maybe they should reintroduce the Grizzly into Washington DC first and do a study on the impact.