Grizzly Bear- Sow and cubs

Ursus arctos horribilis, the grizzly bear, roamed California in large numbers until the early 1900s, when Gold Rush settlers decimated the population. Now, an environmental group is circulating a petition asking California’s Fish and Game Commission to study the feasibility of reintroducing the bear into remote parts of the Sierra Nevadas. We’ll discuss what the proposed return of the grizzly bear could mean for the state’s ecology and for its residents. We’ll also hear from experts about the history and current status of the endangered animal, which can run as fast as 35 miles per hour despite weighing over 400 pounds.

More Information:

Environmental Group Seeks to Reintroduce Grizzly Bears to California 26 July,2016Michael Krasny

Guests:
Peter Alagona, associate professor of history, geography, and environmental studies at UC Santa Barbara; author, "After the Grizzly: Endangered Species and the Politics of Place in California"
Gregg Loslinksi, spokesman, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee; regional conservation educator, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Jeff Miller , conservation advocate, Center for Biological Diversity
Craig Miller , science editor, KQED

  • Noelle

    The most important question would be is there enough viable habitat to sustain the population without bumping up against humans?

    • De Blo

      How about reducing the dramatically overpopulated human population?

      • Noelle

        I totally agree.

  • Sam Badger

    I think this is a good idea to implement, perhaps in some of the huge, remote national forests or national parks which exist in places like the Sierras. However, local ranchers and others will inevitably complain – overall, the benefits to both tourism and the environment will outweigh the costs, so perhaps some kind of compromise can be offered to insure ranchers against losses due to grizzlies.

    • Fielding Mellish

      So you think adding Grizzlies to the state will benefit tourism ? I suggest you Google “grizzly bear mauling” images. I would be willing to bet it would hurt tourism and discourage hiking in the Sierra … But maybe that’s the intent ?

      • Sam Badger

        Considering how many people go to Yellowstone each year to see animals like the Grizzlies and the Buffalo, probably. Of course it would make hiking more dangerous, but then again grizzly attacks on hikers aren’t exactly as common as, say, dying in a car accident.

        • Robert Thomas

          Unless one is very experienced and well armed, it’s foolish to tent camp or bivouac in Yellowstone park in any other season than mid-Winter, now. This is fine- for Yellowstone. Brown bears are magnificent creatures, as for instance also are tigers.

          “Grizzly at campground at Yellowstone Park”

  • Robert Thomas

    There is a very great distinction between the reintroduction of, for example, wolves into the state of California and the introduction of grizzly bears here.

    The California grizzly bear, Ursus arctos californicus, is EXTINCT. Any brown bear – such as Ursus arctos horribilis – introduced into the state’s lands would be an invasive species.

    Introduction of brown bears into California would make any attempt at following the Pacific Coast Trail other than during mid-Winter a severely unadvisable activity.

    I STRONGLY suggest that the “Center for Biological Diversity” stay in Tucson, whence it derives and mind its own business. Perhaps they can work on reintroduction of a colony of Barry Goldwater clones into their own state.

    Keep the grizzly bear where it belongs, in the state of California – proudly displayed on the flag.

    • Paul

      Mr Thomas, my sentiments precisely !!
      1) Never trust irrationality of the CBD. If they had their way, humans would be the ones pursuing self-extinction.
      2) I’m in the Sierra back country several times each year, all different places. The CBD does not want me or anyone else visiting or recreating there, except their elitist psuedo-biologists.
      3) I have encountered several black bears over the years- they want my properly-stored food. I’m still alive, and that’s only because they were black bears, not brown. Once I camped in the northeast corner Yellowstone – a large brown bear came very close to camp – that was a stress test, to be sure !
      4) The ecosystem in Calif has fully adjusted to the absence of brown bears. Re-introduction would be a disaster for all wildlife and people. The point that brown bears are much more suited to living in the coastal areas, rather than the High-Sierra is true. Food sources in the high Sierra are minimal. Though brown bears may be very good at solving California’s severe wild boar problem.
      5) I’ve never hunted, but should it come to pass that brown bears are re-introduced into areas I visit, I may feel the need to exercise our 2nd Amendment rights (but not in National Parks). Though I hear bear spray may be just as or more effective statistically.
      6) This sounds like the “Restore Hetch-Hetchy” movement’s Déjà vu (if we lived in an energy & water utopia, sure, take it down, but we don’t).
      7) How many CBD supporters have actually encountered a large bear in the forest? Let the average CBD contributor experience this a few times and then ask their opinion.

  • Another Mike

    The grizzly bear would be introduced to remote locations — good.
    I was afraid for a moment that the Native Plant movement had spread from flora to fauna, and that grizzlies would be restored to the Bay Area as they were at the time of the Costanoans.

    • Robert Thomas

      Once a human being sees either a brown bear or even evidence of a brown bear, however distant, through even any telescopic aperture, that person should assume that he of she is being hunted by that bear. He or she should turn ALL of his or her attention to escaping the locale, immediately. In the Sierra Nevada, no location is sufficiently remote.

  • Robert Thomas

    Grizzly bears are not “nearly extinct” in California, they ARE extinct.

  • Another Mike

    The other problem is today’s American, prone to take selfies with bison in Yellowstone, would not know how to behave if they encountered a grizzly.

    • Robert Thomas

      When my sister worked for the National Park Service at Wind Cave in South Dakota, convincing visitors to stay away from the bison there was a constant problem. The apocryphal question they related hearing from curious visitors after they had seen the signs stating “BUFFALOES ARE DANGEROUS” – was:

      “We’ve seen the buffaloes. Where are the dangeroos?”

    • De Blo

      A strong argument to reintroduce the grizzly bear here.

  • Robert Thomas

    Dr Krasny, also, seems to convolve black bears and brown bears.

    ¡Ayeee! Please, Dr Krasny! Refrain from commenting on aspects of the natural physical world.

    Comparing a black bear to a brown bear is like comparing a salamander to a T. rex.

  • Bill_Woods

    After hearing seemingly-unlikely stories from the Indians, the Lewis & Clark expedition first encountered grizzlies in 1805.
    Lewis: “I find that the curiossity of our party is pretty well satisfyed with rispect to this anamal.”

    • Robert Thomas

      Ha! Yah, boy.

    • Monger

      “I find that the curiossity of our party is pretty well satisfyed with rispect to this anamal.” A gem of under-statement! Needed that on an otherwise somber work afternoon!

  • jdoubleu

    Wall Street’s Bear & Bull icons are from Alta California. Horace Greeley wrote about the (pay per view) fights between these animals in Napa AND at SF’s Mission Dolores! (Bears attack on the way DOWN; bulls fight with their horns gorging UP. Hence the Wall Street connection.) For some great history on these bear / bull fights, visit the Bale Grist Mill in Napa.

  • Livegreen

    Species questions:
    Is it true that bears are distantly related to dogs, and how far back does that go?
    Was the California Grizzly different in any way to other Grizzlies, and if so are there grizzlies available for introduction that are more closely related to our own?

    • Robert Thomas

      Ursus arctos californicus and Ursus arctos horribilis (the common Grizzly) are distinct sub-species of brown bear, as for instance are Ursus arctos arctos (the Russian brown bear), Ursus arctos middendorffi (the kodiac bear) etc.

      Ursus arctos californicus is extinct.

      • Livegreen

        Thanks. How distinct are they from each other…

        • Robert Thomas

          The good WP article “Brown bear” includes photos of several sub-species and other description that illustrate differences in bear morphology. There are also good links to other references there.

          “The largest subspecies, the Kodiak bear (U. a. middendorffi), rivals the polar bear as the largest member of the bear family (Ursidae). The Ussuri brown bear and also the extinct California grizzly approached the Kodiak brown bear in size. Leopold (1959) described the Mexican grizzly that, according to Rausch (1963), qualifies as the smallest form of U. a. horribilis in North America. One California grizzly weighed 2,200 lb (1,000 kg).”

          “Brown Bear”
          WP

    • Bill_Woods

      Well, all animals are related, if you go back far enough. A quick search suggests the most recent common ancestor of dogs and bears lived ~50 million years ago.

  • Robert Thomas

    A stupid, irresponsible television advertisement recently aired that treated brown nears as if they were Pokémon GO creatures. This sort of imbecilic treatment of the natural world is the likely cause of actual death in human beings.

  • Robert Thomas

    “Grizzlies don’t seek out people …”

    What BS!

    If you can see a grizzly bear, you’re being hunted by that bear.

  • David

    love it, bring ’em back

  • Robert Thomas

    Now we’re comparing brown bears and river otters.

  • Robert Thomas

    A guy calls in and talks about there being excess “deer in the Santa Cruz mountains and … “.

    “Yeah. Hmmm. Interesting…”

    Good grief.

  • Linus Hollis

    Encountered a camel in eastern Los Padres National. Not a tame refugee from the US Army! Closer to the coast, came around a three meter boulder to meet a couple of cubs of an almost immediately charging brown bear. Knowing the native survival tactics, I survived. The cubs were raised in Canyon until the PG&E pipeline explosion there. Alas. This was 1972.

  • Linus Hollis

    Mr. Thomas is correct. The only way to escape a brown bear is to climb a tree higher than the bear can. A fast moving river is a good option if it is very close. Bears run down deer, they are fast and quick. Many native peoples have told how to survive if armed. Bears stand up to a tall prey and grab with a bear hug, ripping apart their captive food. You want a tree to get the claws while you shoot or disembowel the bear. Scarred peoples were knife wielding or did not duck down fast enough to avoid the claws as the bear fell back.

    • Monger

      How about industrial strength pepper spray?

      • Linus Hollis

        Unfortunately, the Parks, national & local to California, ban such a product, called bear spray. Private property, legal. Effective? I am told it is. Only one bear encounter.

  • Fielding Mellish

    I’m planning on getting funding for a new study regarding reintroducing Alligators back into the lagoon at Disneyworld. It will cost $1.5million and take 2 years. Please donate to the Biological Center for Diversity ….

    • De Blo

      Alligators will always be and always should be in the lagoon at Disney World.

  • Nate Feldman

    Love the idea. The griz is not extinct, it’s extirpated; and it’s extirpated due to human activities. Is there a risk, yes – but there’s always a risk to walking through the wild, it’s not the city. The griz is a keystone species and it could do much for restoring natural ecosystem functions. Honestly, you are more likely to be killed by an ATV or vehicle, but we don’t completely outlaw them – we educate people how to be safe and take reasonable precautions.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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