Fully grown grizzly bears can weigh up to 1500 pounds. Despite their weight bears can run at speeds of up to 35 mph. The coat colour can be brown or black. The fur is sprinkled with silver-tipped hairs. Bears feed on a variety of plants, berries, roots, fungi, fish and small mammals.
Bears are extremely strong and can kill people or animals with a single blow. When upset by a hunter the bear will slap, claw or bite its victim. Very few mountain men survived a mauling by a bear. Two notable exceptions were Jedediah Smith and Hugh Glass.
It is estimated that there were about 100,000 grizzly bears in North America in the 19th century. Hunted to almost to extinction, they are now extremely rare and some experts suggest that there are less than 1,000 still alive in the United States.
I dreamt of bears so vividly that I woke with a furry death-hug at my throat, but feeling quite refreshed. When I mounted my horse after breakfast the sun was high and the air so keen and intoxicating that, giving the animal his head, I galloped up and down hill, feeling completely tireless. Truly, that air is the elixir of life. I had a glorious ride back to Truckee. The road was not as solitary as the day before. In a deep part of the forest the horse snorted and reared, and I saw a cinnamon- coloured bear with two cubs cross the track ahead of me. I tried to keep the horse quiet that the mother might acquit me of any designs upon her lolloping children, but I was glad when the ungainly, long-haired party crossed the river.
While crossing one of these little prairies, we spied a bear making his way to the mountain. A part of the Indian's equipage is a lasso, tied to his saddle girth, and in the skill and accuracy with which they throw it, they far excel the Mexicans. On this occasion it was brought into use. A couple of them galloped out, one dexterously throwing the noose over Bruin's neck and twitching him on his back, the other as dexterously throwing another over his hind legs, thus subjecting him to a most uncomfortable stretch, as they pulled in opposite directions. A scalping knife soon relieved him of his hide, and a portion of his carcass supplied our evening meal. Bear's flesh is often eaten by them, but is not regarded as equal to buffalo, beef, or venison. They are hunted considerably, however, for their oil, which is used in the preparation of various kinds of skins.
I walked a few paces into the open place, resembling a path, when I unexpectedly fell up to my middle into the snow. I extricated myself without difficulty, and walked on; but remembering that I had heard the Indians speak of killing bears in their holes, it occurred to me that it might be a bear's hole into which I had fallen, and looking down into it, I saw the head of a bear lying close to the bottom of the hole. I placed the muzzle of my gun nearly between his eyes, and discharged it. As soon as the smoke cleared away, I took a piece of a stick and thrust it into the eyes and into the wound in the head of the bear, and being satisfied that he was dead, I endeavoured to lift him out of the hole; but being unable to do this, I returned home, following the track I had made in coming out.
I had always been fond of hunting, and I now had a good opportunity to gratify my ambition in that direction, as I had plenty of spare time on my hands. In this connection I will relate one of my bear-hunting adventures. One day, when I had nothing else to do, I saddled up an extra pony express horse, and arming myself with a good rifle and pair of revolvers, struck out for the foot-hills of Laramie Peak for a bear-hunt. Riding carelessly along, and breathing the cool and bracing autumn air which came down from the mountains, I felt as only a man can feel who is roaming over the prairies of the far West, well armed and mounted on a fleet and gallant steed. The perfect freedom which he enjoys is in itself a refreshing stimulant to the mind as well as to the body. Such indeed were my feelings on this beautiful day as I rode up the valley of the Horseshoe. Occasionally I scared up a flock of sage-hens or a jack-rabbit. Antelopes and deer were alntost always in sight in any direction, but as they were not the kind of game I was after on that day I passed them by and kept on towards the higher mountains. The further I rode the rougher and wilder became the country, and I knew that I was approaching the haunts of the bear. I did not discover any, however, although I saw plenty of tracks in the snow.
About two o'clock in the afternoon, my horse having become tired, and myself being rather weary, I shot a sage-hen and, dismounting, I unsaddled my horse and tied him to a small tree, where he could easily feed on the mountain grass. I then built a little fire, and broiling the chicken and seasoning it with salt and pepper, which I had obtained from my saddle-bags, I soon sat down to a "genuine square meal," which I greatly relished.
After resting for a couple of hours, I remounted and resumed my upward trip to the mountain, having made up my mind to camp out that night rather than go back without a bear, which my friends knew I had gone out for. As the days were growing short, night soon came on, and I looked around for a suitable camping place. While thus engaged, I scared up a flock of sage-hens, two of which I shot, intending to have one for supper and the other for breakfast.
By this time it was becoming quite dark, and I rode down to one of the little mountain streams, where I found an open place in the timber suitable for a camp. I dismounted, and after unsaddling my horse and hitching him to a tree, I prepared to start a fire. Just then I was startled by hearing a horse whinnying further up the stream. It was quite a surprise to me, and I immediately ran to my animal to keep him from answering, as horses usually do in such cases. I thought that the strange horse might belong to some roaming band of Indians, as I knew of no white men being in that portion of the country at that time. I was certain that the owner of the strange horse could not be far distant, and I was very anxious to find out who my neighbor was, before letting him know that I was in his vicinity. I therefore resaddled my horse, and leaving him tied so that I could easily reach him I took my gun and started out on a scouting expedition up the stream. I had gone about four hundred yards when, in a bend of the stream, I discovered ten or fifteen horses grazing.
On board the Steamer Twilight - 450 miles below Fort Benton... I believe I have seen 50,000 Buffaloes within the last two weeks. They are continually swimming across the River in droves and very often they get caught in the current and carried right down by the boat so close that they are often struck by the wheels. The deck hands can take a lasso and catch them in the water any day... You would laugh to see the old mountain men cut the stones and tongue out of a Bull as soon as he is down. They are considered the choicest parts. Deer, Antelope, wolves. Bears and Elk are also very abundant on the shores. Indeed all kinds of game is so abundant that it has ceased to have any interest.
He matured with Yellow House (Warp, 2006), recorded by a real band (drummer Christopher Bear, keyboardist and bassist Chris Taylor, and new guitarist Daniel Rossen) and much better arranged. The first few seconds of Easier evoke a vintage atmosphere before it ventures into a tipsy country-rock rhythm, still dominated by paradisiac vocal harmonies and orchestral flourishes. Celestial vocals also permeate the waltzing and tinkling Lullabye before it escalates to an oddly booming pop languor. The dense arrangement of Central And Remote, at times reminiscent of Moody Blues and King Crimson, catapults its simple folkish chant into a realm of psychedelic and metaphysical ecstasy. Little Brother begins like a simple guitar country ditty a` la Leo Kottke, but then mutates in all sorts of different things until a coda of bird calls and monk choir that has nothing to do with the beginning. Plans, a lazy march with whistling instead of backing vocals, turns into a horn fanfare reminiscent of both thriller soundtracks and jazz bands The harmless carefree litany of On A Neck On A Spit boasts both the noisiest intermezzo and the most enthralling acceleration of the batch. These were complex compositions, which enjoy multiple detours with no clear destination, and which were easily ascribed to the psychedelic-folk revival (correctly so for the indolent Beatles-ian ballad Knife), but in reality were more properly a kind of post-modernist take on atmospheric folk-pop. At the same time he was capable eaks of achieving peaks of pathos even with the most skeletal of structures, like the nocturnal piano dirge Marla and the hypnotic hymn-like Colorado. This album turns atmospheric folk-rock into a case of information overload.
Department Of Eagles was the pre-existing project of Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen and Fred Nicolaus. They debuted with the electronic experiment of Whitey on the Moon, better known as The Cold Nose (2003). They used the studio to craft a broad range of imitations, from the Brazilian-tinged ballad Sailing By Night to the punkish synth-pop a` la Ultravox of Romo-Goth, with peaks of genius in the cubistic funk-jazz On Glaze and especially the surreal collage-lullaby Noam Chomsky Spring Break 2002. They then opted for a nostalgic fusion of orchestral pop and freak-folk on In Ear Park (2008), luckily still displaying the wacky mood of the debut. The drunk bedroom-folk meditation of In Ear Park, with acoustic fingerpicking, banjo and cello, is the exception to the rule. No One Does It Like You borrows from Phil Spector's wall of sound, Tamla soul and doo-wop. Herringbone is a moronic Paul McCartney-ian litany. Floating On The Lehigh sounds like a parody of exotic and romantic Broadway musicals. And so forth. Around The Bay is typical of their method that can be magniloquent and idiosyncratic at the same time soulful and still demented. The arrangements represent most of the fun. For example, Teenagers begins with harp and piano and incorporates a brass fanfare. Archive 2003-2006 (American Dust, 2010) collects rarities.
Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest (Warp, 2009) boasted a sleek and crisper production but the complexity was actually reduced. The delirious rhythmic shuffle Southern Point, the limping choral hymn Fine For Now, and the alternating shy and booming I Live With You, stick to one disorienting trick, preferring focus over creativity and the radio-friendly While You Wait For The Others (the only moment of relative fervor), Two Weeks (their biggest hit yet) and Cheerleader are rather plain, predictable and old-fashioned by his standards. On this album Droste opted a bit too often for the subdued ballad (All We Ask, Dory, About Face), offering too little in terms of vocal and instrumental detours to raise it above the threshold of mediocre bedroom confession. A breathing choir bestows meaning to the closing piano dirge, Foreground, but only in the last few seconds. It's a good metaphor to summarize the entire album.
Chris Taylor's project Cant debuted with the glacial progressive electronica of Dreams Come True (2011).
Daniel Rossen compiled some of the songs meant for Grizzly Bear's last album on the EP Silent Hour/ Golden Mile (2012), and it sounds like a general turn towards a much more conventional style, from the Nashville-ian Up on High and the poppy Silent Song.
The grizzly bear is a kind of brown bear. Many people in North America use the common name “grizzly bear” to refer to the smaller and lighter-colored bear that occurs in interior areas and the term “brown bear” to refer to the larger and typically darker-colored bear in coastal areas. However, most of these bears are now considered the same subspecies.
In North America there are two subspecies of brown bear (Ursus arctos): the Kodiak bear, which occurs only on the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago, and the grizzly bear, which occurs everywhere else. Brown bears also occur in Russia, Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia.
Grizzly bears are large and range in color from very light tan (almost white) to dark brown. They have a dished face, short, rounded ears, and a large shoulder hump. The hump is where a mass of muscles attach to the bear’s backbone and give the bear additional strength for digging. They have very long claws on their front feet that also give them extra ability to dig after food and to dig their dens.
Grizzly bears weigh upward of 700 pounds (315 kilograms). The males are heavier than the females and can weigh up to 1,700 pounds (770 kilograms). A large female will weigh up to 800 pounds (360 kilograms).
Grizzly bears once roamed throughout the entire western United States south into Mexico, including the Great Plains and along rivers in desert habitats. Control actions and habitat loss extirpated them from 98 percent of their original habitat in the U.S., including the Great Plains and all habitats south of Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, including California, Idaho, and Washington. Populations persisted in the Northern Rocky Mountains including Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and in northwestern Montana and extreme northern Idaho next to Canada. A large population of grizzly bears lives inland in Alaska and northern Canada. The southern populations in Canada’s British Columbia and Alberta are greatly reduced. Thanks to conservation efforts since about 1975, grizzly bears are recovering well in Yellowstone and elsewhere in the Northern Rockies and are even beginning to recolonize prairie habitats along the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana. Grizzly bears can be found in woodlands, forests, alpine meadows, and prairies. In many habitats they prefer riparian areas along rivers and streams.
Grizzly bears are omnivores. The most commonly eaten kinds of plants are fleshy roots, fruits, berries, grasses, and forbs. If grizzly bears are on the hunt, their prey can include fish (especially salmon), rodents like ground squirrels, carrion, and hoofed animals like moose, elk, caribou, and deer. They are especially good at catching the young of these hoofed species. Grizzly bears can also target domestic animals like cattle and sheep and cause economically important losses for some ranchers. The National Wildlife Federation has a program on National Forest lands surrounding Yellowstone Park to prevent attacks on domestic livestock by purchasing the grazing allotments from ranchers.
Grizzly bears use sounds, movement, and smells to communicate. They growl, moan, or grunt, especially when females are communicating with their young or during mating season when male bears can fight each other fiercely for the opportunity to mate with receptive females. Grizzly bears also rub their bodies on trees to scratch and to let other bears know they are there.
Winter can be very tough for many species of wildlife, because the season brings harsh weather and little food. Grizzly bears hibernate in warm dens during the winter to minimize energy expenditure at a time when natural foods are not available and to permit their tiny young to be born in a warm and secure environment. Throughout the summer and autumn, grizzly bears build up fat reserves by consuming as much food as they can find. In late fall or winter, the bears find a hillside and dig a hole to serve as their winter den. When inside the den, grizzly bears slow down their heart rate, reduce their temperature and metabolic activity, and live off stored fat reserves. Pregnant females give birth in the dens and nurse their cubs until they are large enough to venture outside in the spring as snow melts and new food become available.
Depending on the length of the winter season, grizzly bears can stay in their dens for up to seven months. They don’t even go to the bathroom during this time. Grizzly bear hibernation is not as deep of a sleep as some other hibernators, like bats or ground squirrels, and they will quickly wake up when disturbed. Females with newborn cubs are the last to leave their dens in the spring. Females with older cubs emerge earlier and solitary females and males are the first to exit dens in the spring. Pregnant females are the first to enter dens in the fall followed by females with cubs solitary males enter dens the latest.
Grizzly bears begin to look for mates in the spring and early summer. Females can mate with more than one male during her breeding season. When a female grizzly becomes pregnant, the development of the embryo temporarily stops for several months, a process called “delayed implantation.” Delayed implantation is characteristic of all bear species and some other families of carnivores, including weasels and seals. If a female bear is unable to gain enough weight during the summer and fall, her body will tell her to not proceed with the pregnancy and the embryo will reabsorb. This gives her a head start on gaining enough weight to have a successful pregnancy the following year. When female grizzly bears enter hibernation, the embryo implants in her uterus and begins gestation. In January or February, female grizzly bears give birth to one to four cubs (usually two). The female will care for her young inside the den until spring, when they finally step out into the world.
The mother cares for her young for at least two more years, feeding and protecting them. When the cubs are two and a half years old, they typically separate from their mother. In areas with little food, the cubs may stay with their mother longer. Typically separation happens when the female enters breeding condition and attracts males, which can be a threat to the cubs. At around five years of age, grizzly bears reach sexual maturity.
Grizzly bears are mainly solitary and territorial, except for mothers and their cubs, or when a plentiful food source is discovered. Grizzly bears are known to congregate at rivers with many fish and at improperly fenced garbage dumps. Grizzlies can run pretty fast, reaching speeds as fast as 35 miles an hour for very short sprints. They are good swimmers too. Cubs can climb trees to evade danger, but they lose this ability as their front claws grow longer. Grizzly bears can live to be 30 years in the wild, but most die before age 25.
Grizzly bears are federally listed as threatened. They were excessively overhunted by humans, and now there are less than 1,500 grizzlies left in the United States south of Canada there are also about 31,000 in Alaska. The National Wildlife Federation is fighting for grizzly bears to make sure they have room to roam and can safely coexist with humans.
Through our Adopt-a-Wildlife-Acre program, we work to acquire land outside of Yellowstone National Park to expand the range of the Yellowstone grizzlies. We also work to re-establish extripated populations—for example, in the wilderness areas of Central Idaho, where adequate habitat exists to sustain a secure and sustainable population. The National Wildlife Federation also helps connect habitat by advocating and working to create wildlife corridors and fight to make sure Congress properly funds conservation programs so that wildlife managers have the resources they need to help grizzlies and other wildlife. In addition, we're leading the charge to make sure climate change is not only addressed, but also that wildlife managers are able to assure that habitats that change in response to climate change remain adequate to sustain grizzly bear populations.
Grizzly bears received their name because their brown fur can be tipped with white. This gives them a “grizzled” look, especially when backlit by the sun.
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Grizzly bear, traditional name given to brown bears (Ursus arctos) of North America. Grizzly bears of the northern Rocky Mountains (U. arctos horribilis) are classified as a subspecies, as are the huge Kodiak bears of Alaska (U. arctos middendorffi).
Grizzlies are massive animals with humped shoulders and an elevated forehead that contributes to a somewhat concave profile. The fur is brownish to buff, and the hairs are usually silver- or pale-tipped to give the grizzled effect for which they are named. Large adult grizzlies may be about 2.5 metres (8 feet) long and weigh about 410 kg (900 pounds). The Kodiak bear is the largest living land carnivore and may attain a length of more than 3 metres and a weight of 780 kg. It lives only on Kodiak Island and neighbouring islands. Because of their bulk and long straight claws, these bears rarely climb, even as cubs. Other grizzlies, however, are surprisingly agile and can run as fast as 48 km per hour (30 mph). Their eyesight is poor, and they have been known to attack humans without evident provocation. Females with cubs are the most aggressive.
Omnivorous animals, grizzlies feed on berries, plant roots and shoots, small mammals, fish, calves of many hoofed animals, and carrion. Food is often cached in shallow holes, and grizzlies dig readily and vigorously in search of rodents. Each spring the bear marks the boundary of its territory by rubbing trees, scratching bark, or even biting large pieces from the trunks of trees. During late summer and autumn, grizzlies accumulate large amounts of fat and then retire to dens in winter. Cubs, most often twins, are usually born in January or February after about 6–8 months of gestation.
Grizzlies once ranged through forested and open regions of western North America from Alaska to Mexico. Formerly living across the Great Plains, the grizzly bear has been the subject of many Native American legends and was one of the mammals reported by Lewis and Clark in their journey through eastern Montana in 1804. Grizzlies remain numerous in Alaska and Canada, where they continue to be highly prized as big game. In the continental United States, however, fewer than 1,000 remain, and they are protected by law.
The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is sometimes mistaken for the grizzly because it is sometimes brown in western parts of its range. Bears (family Ursidae) are members of the mammalian order Carnivora.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.
This Was The Largest Grizzly Bear Ever Recorded In The World
These pictures are of a man who works for the US Forest Service in Alaska, And his trophy bear.
He was deer hunting last week when the large grizzly charged him from about 50 yards away. The guy emptied his 7mm Magnum semi-automatic rifle into the bear and it dropped a few feet from him. The big bear was still alive so the hunter reloaded and shot it several times in the head.
The bear was just over one thousand six hundred pounds. It stood 12′ 6′ high at the shoulder, 14′ to the top of his head. It is the largest grizzly bear ever recorded in the world.
The Alaska Fish and Wildlife Commission did not let him keep it as a trophy, Of course but the bear will be stuffed and mounted, and placed on display at the Anchorage airport to remind tourists of the risks involved in the wild.
Analyzing contents of the bears stomach, the Fish and Wildlife Commission established the bear had killed at least two humans in the past 72 hours, including a hiker missing two days prior to the bear’s own death.
Backtracking from where the bear had originated, the US Forest Service found the hiker’s emptied 38-caliber pistol. Not far from the pistol was the remains of the hiker, the other body has not been found.
Although the hiker fired six shots and managed to hit the grizzly with four (that the Service ultimately retrieved, along with twelve 7mm slugs, inside the bear’s body), it only wounded the bear and probably angered it immensely.
Think about this:If you are an average size man, you would be level with the bear’s navel when he stood upright. The bear would look you in the eye when it walked on all fours! To give additional perspective, this bear, standing on its hind legs, could walk up to an average single story house and look over the roof or stand beside a two story house and look in the upper bedroom windows.
Timeline: A History Of Grizzly Bear Recovery In The Lower 48 States
At their peak, grizzly bears numbered more than 50,000 in the Lower 48. They roamed from the West Coast to the Great Plains, from northern Alaska to central Mexico. Facing threats from habitat loss, hunting and conflicts with people and livestock, their numbers dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in the lower 48 by the time the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was implemented in 1975. Today, managers say the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide populations have recovered and are ready for delisting. Here's a timeline of the management actions, court cases and notable events that have shaped grizzly bear recovery since their ESA listing through today.
Grizzlies In The Lower 48 Listed As Threatened Under ESA - July 28, 1975
The grizzly's range has dwindled to about 2 percent of historic habitat in the Lower 48. In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publishes a rule listing grizzlies in the Continental U.S. as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. According to the rule, “it is now unlawful to kill, capture, harm, harass, import, or export a grizzly bear anywhere in the lower 48 states, or to sell any parts or products of grizzlies in interstate or foreign commerce.” But there’s one exception: the rule maintains sport hunting in Northwest Montana as long as no more than 25 bears are killed annually, through both management and hunting. The rule lists the most critical factor in the grizzly’s decline and recovery as conflicts with humans.
Committee Formed To Oversee Grizzly Management - 1983
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee takes shape to coordinate federal, state and tribal stakeholders in managing, researching and monitoring grizzlies and implementing the grizzly bear recovery plan.
“Augmentation Program” in the Cabinet/Yaak Begins - 1990
From 1990-1994, four female grizzlies with no history of negative run-ins with humans are captured in British Columbia and relocated to the Cabinet Mountains. It’s an experiment in increasing the dwindling grizzly population in the area. By the late 1970s, scientists estimated that fewer than a dozen bears remained in the Cabinets, and those bears weren’t reproducing, they were on the path to extinction.
Grizzly Hunting Ends in Lower 48 - September 1991
While grizzly hunts in Wyoming and Idaho ceased when the bear was protected under the Endangered Species Act, small hunts persist in Montana. According to the New York Times, the state continues to allow grizzly hunts in an attempt to reduce conflict with humans. Up to 14 bears – including at most six females – could be killed. Montana officials argue that hunting instilled the animals with “a healthy fear of humans.” A federal judge stalls the hunts just days before they were set to begin, claiming the Endangered Species Act only permits hunting threatened animals under extraordinary population pressures.
Recovery Plan Updated, New Era of Grizzly Management Begins - September 10, 1993
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signs a landmark update to the 1982 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan. The document begins poetically – with a passage from famed conservationist Aldo Leopold followed by a paragraph from ecologist Stephen Herrero:
“The grizzly bear is a symbolic and living embodiment of wild nature uncontrolled by man. Entering into grizzly country represents a unique opportunity – to be part of an ecosystem in which man is not necessarily the dominant species.”
The document, for the first time, formalizes six different ecosystems suitable for grizzlies, each of which will be managed separately: the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE), the Bitterroot Ecosystem, the North Cascade Ecosystem, the Selkirk Ecosystem and the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem (CYE).
FWS Finalizes Plan to Reintroduce Grizzlies Into Bitterroot Ecosystem - November 16, 2000
Bitterroot Reintroduction Plan Trashed - 2001
USFWS proposes scrapping its Bitterroot reintroduction plan under newly appointed Interior Secretary Gale Norton. The reintroduction plan had faced major opposition from the states, including a lawsuit from the Idaho governor. Norton’s proposal to scrap the reintroduction plan is never officially adopted, but Interior takes no further action to reintroduce bears to the Bitterroot.
FWS Proposes Delisting Yellowstone-Area Bears - November 15, 2005
When listed, an estimated 220 to 320 bears lived in the GYE. By 2005, that number is higher than 600. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says this means grizzlies in the Yellowstone area have recovered, and they propose removing endangered species protections for the GYE bears. “We are confident the future of the grizzly bear in Yellowstone is bright,” says Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
Yellowstone Grizzlies Delisted - March 22, 2007
Following nearly 194,000 comments from the public, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces it will delist GYE bears. Conservation and tribal groups quickly file suit.
Federal Protections Restored - September 2009
In a 46-page decision, a federal judge in Missoula puts Yellowstone-area grizzlies back on the endangered species list. The judge says the government didn’t follow its own science in delisting the bears. In particular, the climate-change driven decline of whitebark pine – a key part of the grizzlies’ diet – poses an existential threat to the bears. The judge also says the conservation strategy in place to maintain protection of bears is largely unenforceable and inadequate.
The Feds Appeal - August 2010
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joins the state of Wyoming, the Safari Club International, and others in appealing the decision to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. They maintain the Greater Yellowstone bears are recovered, face no threats to a healthy and growing population, and say the District Court’s ruling erodes public faith in the Endangered Species Act.
Grizzly bear population in the NCDE Expanding - 2011
More than 800 bears are estimated to live in the NCDE, and the grizzly population has been growing consistently for years. Data on recreation, industry, road use, and other factors in this year will prove crucial later, as environmental advocates and wildlife managers spar over what sort of habitat is necessary for a growing grizzly population. It serves as a baseline of habitat data for a time in which bears thrived.
Grizzly Bear Photographed in the North Cascades - July 2011
On a hike in the high mountains, 26-year-old Joe Sebille snaps a picture of a grizzly on a hillside. Scientists verify the photo is of a living grizzly bear, likely foraging for food to help it through the winter. The last verified sighting of a grizzly was in 1996. This is the first photograph in the more than 50 years of a living member of the species in the North Cascades.
Appeal Overruled, Federal Protections Will Remain - November 2011
A three-judge panel for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sides with the District Court’s decision – they say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erroneously removed federal protections for Greater Yellowstone bears. “The Service’s delisting decision, the subject of this appeal, raises a host of scientific, political, and philosophical questions regarding the complex relationship between grizzlies and people in the Yellowstone region,” writes Judge Richard C. Tallman in his decision. The court says the whitebark pine decline does pose a threat to grizzlies. However, they reverse the District Court’s decision as relates to the management plan – the 9th Circuit says the recovery strategy is adequate. Grizzlies remain “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
Grizzly Conflicts With Montana Ranching Communities Intensify - June 2013
Grizzly bears continue expansion from core habitat in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, venturing east of the Rocky Mountain Front. In a Hutterite colony near Valier, Montana, two collared grizzlies are found dead. Members of the colony claim the bears died of exhaustion as they were chased away. Community members say they didn’t report the deaths because they were terrified. The grizzlies’ collars are smashed and burned, while the grizzlies themselves are buried after a botched cremation attempt. The penalty for each of the two deaths could reach six months in prison and a $25,000 fine, but the involved parties reach a plea agreement.
Grizzly Bear Treks Nearly 3,000 Miles - December 2014
A female grizzly, nicknamed Ethyl, makes a long journey that takes her from close to Canada, near Missoula, through the Bitterroots, and deep into Idaho. In her travels, she’s rarely seen by humans and doesn’t get into trouble when she’s around livestock or property. State officials are optimistic that the bear shows evidence that grizzlies and humans can coexist without conflict.
Federal Effort Begins to Reintroduce Grizzlies in the North Cascades - 2014
The National Park Service announces it will start an environmental analysis that will serve as a first step in reintroducing grizzlies to the North Cascades Ecosystem. This step will take at least three years, and will involve extensive public input.
Emotions High Over Grizzly Reintroduction in Washington - June 2015
More than 3,000 people comment on federal plans to reintroduce grizzlies into the North Cascades. The document comes in at over 1,000 pages long, and includes passionate thoughts from grizzly advocates, people fearful of living with grizzlies, and just about every perspective in between. Officials expect to finalize plans by the end of 2017.
Tribal Groups Sign Treaty - October 02, 2016
U.S. and Canadian tribal groups sign a treaty advocating continued protection of grizzly bears and denouncing trophy hunting of the animal. Signatories cite a rich history of cultural and spiritual significance. Over the next two years, more than 200 tribes will sign the treaty. Chief Stan Grier of the Piikani tribe in Canada says it’s the first Native American treaty in a century and a half that extends across the country’s northern border.
Death Raises Questions About Recreating In Grizzly Country - June 29, 2016
While mountain biking outside Glacier National Park, Forest Service law enforcement officer Brad Treat collided with a grizzly bear as he turned a blind corner. Surprised, the bear mauled and killed Treat. The tragedy brings attention to the need for proper precautions for all forms of recreation – not just hiking – in bear country. These precautions include carrying bear spray, making noise and reducing speed in low-visibility areas. It came at the same time as state and federal measures that could expand mountain bike access in bear country.
Another Species, Another Court Case - August 1, 2017
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules that Great Lakes gray wolves should remain under federal protection. The lengthy legal battle centers around, among other factors, whether the FWS can carve out a “discrete population segment” for the purposes of delisting it. The court says segmenting populations in this way is legally possible, but was improperly done in this case. “The Service cannot review a single segment with blinders on, ignoring the continuing status of the species’ remnant,” writes Judge Patricia Millett. It’s a decision that will prove important to the outcome of later grizzly delisting decisions.
Yellowstone Delisting, Take Two - June 22, 2017
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announces delisting of Yellowstone-area grizzlies. An estimated 700 bears exist in the ecosystem, and their range has more than doubled since the 1970s. “This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of the state, tribal, federal and private partners,” Zinke says. Conservation groups and tribes file suit, citing a plethora of concerns.
NCDE Bears Expanding - 2017
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks hires a bear manager based in Conrad – about an hour’s drive east from the Rocky Mountain Front. It’s a testament to the grizzlies’ expansion well into the plains. Grizzly bear presence in the area has been documented for about a decade – and it’s part of their historical range. But more bears are finding their way near homes and into fields and stockyards. It’s the breadbasket of Montana, dominated by relatively flat, private agricultural land. Locals worry about grizzly impacts on livestock, grain, and the safety of their families.
Grizzly Hunts Set In Wyoming and Idaho - May 2018
Wyoming finalizes a hunt for up to 10 bears in grizzlies’ core habitat in the state, and another 12 in other areas. If one female is killed in the core habitat, no other grizzlies in the area can be hunted. Idaho proposes a hunt for one bear. Montana refrains from a grizzly hunt this year. The hunts in Idaho and Wyoming will begin on September 1. In total, up to 23 bears could be taken. State wildlife managers say this number poses no threat to the grizzly population, but local activists and photographers opposed to the hunt enter the lottery in an initiative dubbed “Shoot’em With a Camera.”
Habitat-Based Recovery For The NCDE - May 16, 2018
After legal challenges to its 1993 document, the USFWS releases a supplement to the 1993 Recovery Strategy that identifies criteria in habitat necessary for bears to flourish. It sets 2011 as a baseline year for data regarding future development of roads and infrastructure.
Grizzly Advocates Fret Over Hiker Threats To Cab/Yaak Grizzlies - July 2018
Land designated for the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail - starting on the coast of Washington and extending all the way to Glacier National park - slices through grizzly bear habitat in the Yaak Valley. Locals worry the human presence could threaten the area’s small number of bears. They cite overuse issues on other popular trails, like the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
Augmentation Program In The Cabinet Yaak Continues - July 2018
The 20th grizzly is released in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem in a continuation of the population augmentation program that began in the early 1990s. The program is designed both to boost the population and to increase genetic diversity of grizzlies in the area. An estimated 55-60 grizzlies roam the Cabinet-Yaak area, a population growing a little more than 2 percent a year.
A Court Case and a Temporary Halt to the Hunt - August 30, 2018
With grizzly hunts scheduled to start in sections of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Wyoming and Idaho on September 1, District Judge Dana Christensen issues a restraining order on the hunts. He hears arguments from environmental and tribal groups opposed to delisting, and from the federal government. Many expect the judge to “rule from the bench,” meaning make an immediate decision regarding the delisting of GYE grizzly bears. But he opts to take his time, and carefully consider all arguments he heard.
Yellowstone Grizzlies Returned to the Endangered Species List. Again. - September 24, 2018
Judge Christensen issues a decision returning GYE grizzlies to the endangered species list and putting a stop to the postponed hunts in Wyoming and Idaho. The decision rests on three issues: the effect delisting could have on other ecosystems of grizzlies, how grizzlies could connect between ecosystems and how to compare different methods of counting bears.Christensen also specifically mentions Glacier-area bears, saying, “The Service’s approach – evidenced first by this delisting and by its proposal to delist the other significant population, the Northern Continental Divide population – does not square with the ESA as a matter of statutory interpretation or policy.” The Fish and Wildlife Service has not formally proposed delisting in the NCDE, but officials have long said grizzlies have met recovery criteria, and had announced plans to decide whether or not to remove federal protections by the end of the year.
An Unexpected Discovery - October 27, 2018
A grizzly bear is captured on a golf course near Stevensville – outside the Bitterroot Mountains, about a half hour south of Missoula. Bear managers consider the Bitterroot Ecosystem a key point of possible connection between Yellowstone and Glacier-area bears. But this grizzly is relocated north to the NCDE. The event draws attention to an often-overlooked ecosystem, and to the lack of clear plans for managing grizzlies when they set paw in the Bitterroot Ecosystem.
Montana Limits Grizzly Bear Deaths - November 2018
A state rule passes that dictates mortality limits after NCDE bears are delisted. The rule says Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will manage for about 1,000 grizzlies in and around Glacier National Park. In order to delist grizzlies, the Fish and Wildlife Service must show adequate protections are in place to ensure the bear population never again faces threats that could return it to the endangered species list.
Record Mortalities in The Northern Continental Divide Ecosytem - November 2018
More than 50 grizzlies die or are relocated from the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem – the highest number on record. Officials cite a spike in vehicle-related deaths as a primary cause. State bear biologists say the numbers are high, but not high enough to be of concern. Wildlife advocates say the numbers are worrisome, and indicate an upward trend in mortality as population and recreation pressures rise in the NCDE.
NCDE Delisting Plans Stalled - December 2018
FWS Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Hilary Cooley says the agency won’t propose delisting NCDE grizzlies in 2018, as had long been speculated. Judge Christensen’s decision throws a wrench in the federal government’s earlier plan to decide whether or not to delist by the end of the year.
Greater Yellowstone Delisting Appeals - December 2018
According to the Powell Tribune, Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Hilary Cooley tells Wyoming legislators, “My personal feeling is we would not be successful on appeal.” However, the FWS files notice to appeal the court decision blocking delisting in the GYE anyway. Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and intervenors including hunting advocacy groups and the NRA also file notices. This does not mean the government will formally appeal, but does serve as a placeholder that grants the FWS more time to decide whether or not to do so.
Cascades Reintroduction Stalled - December 2018
After numerous roadblocks including the resignation of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, federal officials say the North Cascades Reintroduction plan will not be finished by the end of the year. The government held six scoping meetings in 2015, eight public hearings and two webinars in 2017, and provided evidence at about 70 other meetings in the region. They’ve received more than 125,000 public comments on the draft plan.
National Forests Coordinate Bear Management Strategies -December 28, 2018
In the midst of the government shutdown, Flathead National Forest puts its first new forest plan in more than 30 years in the federal register, along with amendments that will coordinate grizzly recovery strategies across all National Forests with land in the NCDE. Those lands compose about 60 percent of land within the ecosystem, and Flathead National Forest alone accounts for nearly 40 percent. In order to delist bears, the government must show that adequate plans are in place for the continued health of the population without ESA protection. Critics worry the plans abandon efforts to decommission old, unused roads. They cite scientific studies that say even unused roads pose barriers to grizzly expansion.
Feds File Appeal To Delist Yellowstone-Area Grizzlies - May 24, 2019
The Trump Administration asks a federal appeals court to remove Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears. Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stripped federal protections for those bears in 2017, but a federal judge in Missoula returned the grizzlies to the endangered species list last fall. That move cancelled what would been the first grizzly hunts in the lower 48 in decades, scheduled in Wyoming and Idaho.
Bitterroot-area Bears Will Have Full ESA Protections - January 22, 2020
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials released a letter to National Forests in the Bitterroot Ecosystem clarifying a longstanding question-mark over the status of grizzlies in the Bitterroots.
A Clinton-era plan would have reintroduced an "experimental" and "nonessential" population of grizzlies there, meaning that population wouldn't enjoy full protections under the ESA. That plan was scrapped in 2001. But until this week, the legal status and protections of grizzlies in the area were never formalized.
Pioneering Grizzly Bear Spotted East Of Great Falls - June 10, 2020
A grizzly bear was sighted nearly 80 miles northeast of Great Falls Sunday, according to state wildlife officials. The area near Big Sandy where the bear was spotted is the farthest a grizzly is known to have ventured toward the eastern plains of Montana from either the Yellowstone or Glacier area populations.
FWP says it shows that bears are continuing to recolonize the prairies they haven’t inhabited for decades.
The agency suspects the grizzly near Big Sandy is a young wandering male. The bear got into dog food and killed a couple of chickens. Wildlife officials are educating the area’s residents, who aren’t accustomed to bears, about how they can reduce conflict.
Appeals Court Maintains Yellowstone Grizzly Protections - July 8, 2020
The roughly 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park will remain federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Wednesday.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted Yellowstone grizzlies in the summer of 2017. In the fall of 2018, a federal judge in Missoula returned protections to the bruins. The USFWS, along with Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and several pro-hunting organizations, appealed that district court decision.
The Ninth Circuit agreed with the lower court that delisting Yellowstone bears was “arbitrary and capricious.” The court said the agency did not rely on the best available science, and needs to have concrete, enforceable plans in place to maintain the genetic diversity and health of grizzly populations. It also affirmed the need to make sure new methods of estimating the size of the population of bears don’t falsely inflate grizzly numbers in the area.
However, the Ninth Circuit overturned one, small part of the district court’s opinion. The USFWS maintained the district court required them to do too much analysis on what removing protections for Yellowstone bears means for grizzlies elsewhere. The Ninth Circuit agreed. They said while the agency does need to conduct some review of what delisting would mean for remaining, protected bears, that review does not need to be as rigorous and lengthy as initially required.
The latest ruling marks the second time the federal government has tried—unsuccessfully—to delist Yellowstone-area bears.
Grizzly Bears Will Retain Threatened Species Protections - March 31, 2021
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday recommended continued federal protections for grizzlies in the continental U.S. Federal officials say the bears still face threats from human population growth and habitat loss. But the report doesn't rule out removing protections for bears in specific regions in the future.The recommendation released in a 5-year review said grizzly bears in the lower 48 states should retain threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.
Grizzly Bear Population Estimates By Ecosystem - January 2020
March 31, 2021 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is recommending no change to the current listed status of the grizzly bear in the lower 48 states as threatened under the Endangered Species Act following the completion of a five-year status review. This recommendation follows a thorough review of the best available science, informed by an independently peer-reviewed species status assessment. Read more in the press release.
March 25, 2021 As Grizzly Bears Emerge from Dens, USFWS Urges Public to Stay Safe and Keep Bears Wild. Residents and visitors advised to be vigilant, keep their distance, and to never feed wildlife. Click to read the full press release.
January 14, 2020 Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is initiating a 5-year status review of Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) in the conterminous United States under the Endangered Species Act. A 5-year status review is based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review therefore, we are requesting submission of any new information on this species that has become available since the last review of the species in 2011. Click here for the Federal Register Notice.
July 30, 2019 Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revised the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to again include grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) as part of the existing listing for grizzly bears under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This action was taken to comply with a September 24, 2018, Montana District Court order.
May 24, 2019 The Service filed a brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit appealing a Montana District Court’s September 24, 2018 ruling that vacated and remanded our rule to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population. The State of Wyoming filed a notice of appeal on December 6, 2018. The Service filed its original notice of appeal on December 21, 2018.
Currently, all grizzly bears in the lower-48 states are protected as threatened.
SC Press e-Journals
California—home to the Bear Flag, the Bear Flag Rebellion, baseball&rsquos Fresno Grizzlies and UC Berkeley&rsquos Golden Bears. But what bear do these names refer to? Today the only bear found in California is the American black bear (a bit of a misnomer, since its color can range from black to brown to cinnamon to almost golden). However, the black bear is not the bear the aforementioned names refer to. Instead, the bear found on California&rsquos state flag and its state seal is the California Grizzly Bear. History has it that the last California Grizzly was shot and killed in 1922, giving the state the dubious distinction of being the only state to have an extinct animal designated as the official state mammal.
California&rsquos apparent obsession with the bear and its name continue. In Gary Noy&rsquos book (Gold Rush Stories) co-published by Sierra College Press and Heyday in 2017, he states:
The early Gold Rush grizzly omnipresence is reflected in profuse references to the bear in California place names. More than 500 locations are designated with &ldquobear&rdquo as part of the name. There are seven Bear Rivers, twenty-five Bear Mountains, thirty Bear Canyons, and more than a hundred Bear Creeks. Additionally, there are waterways, meadows, and gulches identified as &ldquoBearskin,&rdquo &ldquoBearpaw,&rdquo and &ldquoBeartrap.&rdquo Two hundred or more spots are labeled &ldquoGrizzly,&rdquo including several Grizzly Peaks throughout the state and the old mining site named Grizzly Flats in El Dorado County. At least a dozen locations are identified with &ldquoOso,&rdquo the Spanish word for bear. The grizzly adorns the California State Flag and the Great Seal of California. The mascots of several University of California campuses are bears.
The California Grizzly is Gone
The California grizzly is extinct today, but what kind of bear was it? To best explain California&rsquos state mammalian symbol we&rsquoll need to start with the brown bear. The brown bear, Ursus arctos, is found worldwide in the northern hemisphere, in North America, Europe and Asia, and once occurred in northern Africa as well. The species is divided into multiple subspecies, populations that differ from one another slightly in terms of size, coloration, or habitat.
The California grizzly was one such subspecies of the brown bear, and so its scientific name is Ursus arctos californicus. Other well-known subspecies of the brown bear include the Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi), the grizzly of northern North America (Ursus arctos horribilis), and the Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos). Common names are loosely applied, and collectively these bears are often termed &ldquogrizzlies&rdquo due to their pelage.
The Brown Bear
The brown bear is a relative to today&rsquos Asian black bear, the American black bear and the polar bear, as well as to extinct species such as the cave bear featured in prehistoric cave paintings. Modern brown bears, including the recently extinct California grizzly, have existed for perhaps 1-2 million years, though periodic interbreeding with polar bears, Asian black bears, and American black bears has made it difficult to pin down the exact branching pattern of the bear family tree.
The California grizzly was an enormous bear, with a characteristic muscular hump over the shoulders that today&rsquos more northern grizzlies also have. The hind foot of one adult male grizzly was measured at 12 inches long and 8 inches wide, and claws were often 2 to 3.5 inches long. Though they were mostly brown, there was variation in their color, with some hairs having pale tips which gave them a grizzled appearance. Some specimens were described as having a darker brown stripe along the spine and flanks. The long guard hairs often gave these bears a somewhat shaggy appearance, especially compared to the comparatively sleeker (and smaller) American black bear.
The Mexican Grizzly
The California grizzly was probably slightly larger than the Mexican (Sonoran) grizzly, another subspecies of brown bear that is also now extinct. Despite all the accounts, scientific and literary, of the California grizzly, Tracy Storer and Lloyd Tevis, in their 1955 book California Grizzly wrote &ldquoSeemingly, no one ever measured and recorded in print all the usual dimensions of a wild California grizzly.&rdquo However, these two scientists were able to combine information from a variety of reports to conclude that they were usually 6-10 feet long and 3-4 feet high at the shoulder.
The mass of the California grizzly is more difficult to determine, since few—if any—were ever weighed on accurate scales, and the size of grizzlies seen or killed may often have been exaggerated in reports. There are newspaper reports from the 1800s of bears weighing well over 1,000 pounds, and one captive bear was reported to be 1,100 pounds at his death. In comparison, the grizzlies of Alaska and Canada (Ursus arctos horribilis) are usually 6-9 feet long, 3-4 feet at the shoulder, and 200-850 pounds &ndash males normally somewhat larger than the females.
A Southern California town, Valley Center, once called Bear Valley, claims to be the site of the largest grizzly bear ever taken (2200 lbs.) in 1866. This claim is contested but there is no doubt, the California grizzly was a very big bear!
10,000 to Zero
It&rsquos hard to believe that there may have been as many as 10,000 California grizzlies roaming once about the state. Today there are none.
As early as 1896 C. Hart Merriam proclaimed that the California grizzly &ldquounfortunately is rapidly approaching extinction.&rdquo The famous American mammologist studied the grizzly bear closely—so closely, in fact, that he once deduced that the bear (grizzly and brown bears) had as many as 86 variations, seven of which were in California alone. Modern genetic science has reduced this exaggerated number to only a few subspecies, the California grizzly is one of them, albeit now extinct.
In California, the grizzly was found everywhere excepting the desert. They enjoyed the plentiful resources of fish and flesh, nuts and berries and even fungi in California&rsquos wild gardens. They were found commonly along the coast and its mountains, in the Delta, throughout the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, in the Sierra Nevada to middle elevations and in throughout southern state, especially in the shrubby, chaparral-filled canyons of the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges.
John Muir's Observations
John Muir, California&rsquos most famous early conservationist, almost playfully described the eating habits of what he called &ldquothe sequoia of the animals&rdquo in his book Our National Parks (1901).
To him almost every thing is food except granite. Every tree helps to feed him, every bush and herb, with fruits and flowers, leaves and bark: and all the animals he can catch, —badgers, gophers, ground squirrels, lizards, snakes, etc., and ants, bees, wasps, old and young, together with their eggs and larvae and nests. Crunched and hashed, down all go to his marvelous stomach, and vanish as if cast into a fire. What digestion! A sheep or a wounded deer or a pig he eats warm, about as quickly as a boy eats a buttered muffin or should the meat be a month old, it still is welcomed with tremendous relish. After so gross a meal as this, perhaps the next will be strawberries and clover, or raspberries with mushrooms and nuts, or puckery acorns and chokecherries.
Unfortunately, it was this insatiable appetite, and the hoards of Euro-Americans that arrived during the Spanish-Mexican period and later the Gold Rush, that led to the rapid demise of the larger of our two California bruin species.
Grizzlies and Humans
Grizzlies reigned as the top of the food chain for thousands of years in California. Their first encounters with humans were with native Indians who both feared and worshipped them. Many stories were shared about encounters with California bears. Little fear was expressed for the smaller and more skittish bears (American black bear) but the brown bears were a different story.
Depending upon the tribal group, grizzlies were known to be incorporated into their culture—as spirits, demons, reincarnations, or even apparitions—but always with fear and respect. Before Euro Americans appeared on the scene with their firearms, Indians had no defense against a grizzly. Many unfortunates were undoubtedly killed in inadvertent encounters with the ursine kind and numerous observations were recorded of Indians being killed or maimed by grizzlies during the Spanish-Mexican or Vaquero period.
The first known drawing of a grizzly came from Louis Choris, artist aboard the Rurik during the Kotzebue Expedition in 1816. But, the killing of bears began shortly after Spanish arrived in California to stay. In 1769, the first grizzly was killed by a member of the Gaspar de Portola expedition party—by a bullet from a blunderbuss near Los Osos, now near San Luis Obispo. They named the location Canada del Oso or the Canyon of the Bear.
It wasn&rsquot long before grizzlies were being killed for their meat. In early 1772 Father Serra sent Commander Pedro Fages and some soldiers to kill bears for food for the missions. In this very same canyon the soldiers killed bears for 3 months. Approximately 9000 pounds of bear meat was sent to Missions San Gabriel and San Diego.
Thusly began California&rsquos tragic decimation of the mammalian monarch that would later become the very symbol of the Golden State. By the early 1920s, all were gone.
We now rue the loss of the California grizzly bear but nowhere other than Cal&rsquos (UC Berkeley) famous Bancroft Library can one find a more fitting tribute to the mammal or a greater expose of human hubris and carelessness. Charles B. Faulhaber, the James D. Hart Director of UCB&rsquos Bancroft Library said,
Through the lens of time, one can view the brutality, ignorance, romance, guilt, and 'redefinition' that characterize our treatment of this icon of California history.
An exhibit at The Bancroft in 2002 displayed hundreds of papers and artifacts that explored &ldquo… the physical extinction and the cultural resurrection of the California Grizzly Bear.&rdquo
While the exhibit has been taken down and its valuable treasures returned to safekeeping, the story lives on. There remains, however, a marvelous book by Heyday (Berkeley) edited by Bancroft librarian Susan Snyder called Bear in Mind (2003) and a wonderful website (http://vm136.lib.berkeley.edu/BANC/Exhibits/bearinmind/)
coordinated by Susan Snyder, Brooke Dykman and Erica Nordmeier, all staff at the Bancroft.
Between the book and the website, you can still dive deeply into California&rsquos rich &ldquogrizzly&rdquo story.
Now, no one ever said it was easy to kill a grizzly bear. In 1910, James McCauley wrote,
He is very tenacious of life, and his coat of fur is so thick and his hide so tough, that it takes a good deal of killing to make him render up his life.
(from &ldquoHow a Grizzly Stopped Berrying&rdquo in The Grizzly Bear &ndash a magazine of the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West)
But nevertheless, in 150 years and ten thousand bears later, we were left without a single California grizzly.
In Westways, July 1934 (a Journal of the Auto Club of Southern California) Vance Hoyt wrote &ldquoThe Passing of the King.&rdquo
With the invention of the repeating rifle, Old Ephraim's nobility, power and courage swiftly melted before the searing flame of gunpowder and lead. No being of flesh and blood could withstand the slaughter that followed. His kind fell by the thousands. Almost overnight the grizzly was forced to change his character and habits of living. The fearless ones suddenly became the great timid beast, who slept by day and stalked by night, and eluded conflict except when forced to fight for his very life. At long last the king had been subjugated by the butcher hand of civilization. The once ruler of the wild fastness of California became extinct because his only sins were greatness in size and fearlessness of mien (sic).
Grizzly as History Aid
A journey with Susan Snyder through her book or a visit to the Bancroft&rsquos &ldquoBear in Mind&rdquo website will carry the reader through the &ldquomodern history&rdquo of our relationship with the California grizzly. As Bancroft&rsquos Charles Faulhaber says, the California grizzly &ldquoserves as a fitting microcosm for the study of California history from the 1700s to the present.&rdquo
In both resources one can read exhilarating stories of California&rsquos wild and vibrant past. Hair-raising stories of grizzly encounters abound when bears were seen by the dozens each week.
You&rsquoll read of bear hunts, bear traps, bear steaks, bear fat, and bull-and-bear fights. You&rsquoll read about the famous Grizzly Adams and you&rsquoll read of &ldquoMonarch&rdquo the last California grizzly in captivity—named so not for his status in the California ecology, but for The San Francisco Examiner, &ldquothe monarch&rdquo of the daily newspapers.
Monarch died in captivity in 1911 and the last California grizzly was shot in the southern Sierra in 1922. Numerous unverified sightings of live grizzlies trickled in for years after, but the fact remained—the California grizzly was gone, entirely and forever.
Should We Reintroduce the Grizzly in California?
In 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity, based in Arizona but with four offices in California initiated a campaign to enlist interest in reintroducing the grizzly in California. It was met with both applause as well as enthusiastic rejection. With California&rsquos population hovering near 40 million (Montana has just over 1 million) fears of mortal encounters of the ursine kind dominated the news for weeks after the announcement.
Introduce them into the Sierran national parks? Wouldn&rsquot this be guarantee human deaths? (In Yellowstone National Park, bears have killed eight people in 150 years—compare this with twelve deaths from falling trees and avalanches and five lightning strike deaths).
A recent book by a popular California author eloquently describes our past and current wildlife-people dilemma. Are we protecting the parks from the people, or the people from the parks? Jordan Fisher Smith&rsquos Engineering Eden (Crown Publishing. NY. 2016) is detailed true story of people vs. grizzlies. Including various other significant issues that we invasive humans have forced upon nature, the book dissects our longstanding love affair with and simultaneous propensity to manipulate and regulate the natural world.
Grizzly in Art
So, the same state that put the grizzly on its flag is now resurrecting it to illustrate its defiance against the current White House and its interest in regulating California&rsquos future. San Francisco&rsquos 3 Fish Studios crafted a brave and bold California Grizzly (amidst poppies, of course) as well as other bear-ish Californiana to represent our independence. The studio&rsquos generous philanthropic efforts range from supporting the arts in schools to the recent (2017) fire victims.
Without a single live grizzly in the state, California celebrates the powerful symbol in myriad ways—while the world-renowned bear flies daily on the state flag in tens of thousands of locations.
A brief history of the grizzly
Former Game & Fish supervisor lays out past, present and future of species
After a 30-year career with Wyoming Game and Fish spent working with large carnivores, Mark Bruscino maintains an interest in animal management — especially grizzly bears.
“I had a super career from my standpoint,” Bruscino told the audience at a recent presentation on grizzlies at Union Presbyterian Church of Powell. “I got my butt chewed on about a daily basis, but no, not by a bear.”
The former Game and Fish supervisor’s presentation covered a short history of the Yellowstone grizzlies, as well as the various theories of how grizzlies should be managed.
“They do cause some controversy, such as livestock depredation and occasionally human injuries as well,” Bruscino said. “But there’s also a lot of value to having these animals. They’re a valuable natural resource, just like an elk or anything else.”
Grizzly numbers show successful recovery
When placed on the endangered species list in 1975, there were only about 130 grizzlies left in the Yellowstone area. Bruscino estimates that number has risen to about 750.
“I know there is a lot of controversy about the estimate, and we know it’s biased low,” he said. “But we can’t fix it. We’ve had some of the most incredible population biologists from around the world look at the estimate.”
What can be said, according to Bruscino, is that there are at least 750 grizzly bears in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, “so recovery over the last 35 years has been pretty successful.”
Once dominant in large portions of the northern hemisphere, grizzlies can still be found in the north islands of Japan, Russia, Mongolia, China, Afghanistan, the northern part of India, parts of the Middle East and eastern Europe. There’s even a small population of grizzlies in central Italy, as well as the French and Spanish Pyrenees. And, of course, North America.
“They live across a wide variety of habitat types,” Bruscino said. “They’re very adaptable these animals are not fragile at all. They live everywhere, from the Arctic to, historically, down into Mexico.”
By 1922, grizzlies had all but disappeared from California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Oregon. Mexico’s final bear was killed in 1955. In 1979, a hunter shot a grizzly in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, the last of its kind there.
“People still hope there’s grizzlies in the San Juans, but there just aren’t,” Bruscino said. “You can’t hide a grizzly bear population, as you know living here.”
Locally, the grizzly population has expanded in recent decades, with bears showing up on Heart Mountain and east of Meeteetse, as well as down in Lander, Pinedale and around Big Piney.
“The population is doing well, and all indicators are that it continues to grow and expand,” Bruscino said. “In my opinion, the good quality habitat is full. We don’t have very many other good places to put them, so that will be a problem for the next generation of wildlife managers to figure out.”
Across the lower 48 states, there are believed to be upwards of 1,700 bears — less than 1 percent of their historical population Bruscino estimates there were about 250,000 grizzlies in the western U.S. prior to settlers moving in. He cited a number of factors as contributing to the decline in population.
For one, “a real and perceived threat to human safety,” Bruscino said. “Bears are big they damage property, injure and occasionally kill people. When there was no regulation, they were viewed as an undesirable critter for the most part and were killed.”
Habitat quality and quantity contributed to the decline to a lesser degree. Livestock depredation also became a factor when the livestock industry began to boom in the West.
“There were notorious bears that had names that were livestock killers,” Bruscino explained. “They went on rampages that went on for years and years. Some big adult males really figured out livestock-killing, and killed a lot of cattle and sheep.”
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the government led campaigns to eradicate bears, wolves and other predators that competed with the livestock industry. Most western states treated bears as varmints, with little or no restrictions on killing them. That didn’t change until the 1950s and 1960s, when sportsmen began to view black bears and grizzlies as a valuable game animal.
Some grizzlies are killed every year by elk hunters — most of them justified, self-defense situations, according to Bruscino. But elk hunting can also be good for bears. A study out of Montana estimates that elk hunters leave about 360 tons of meat on the ground in the Yellowstone ecosystem every year.
“Whatever doesn’t get packed out is a pretty substantial food source,” Bruscino said. “In fact, we’ve looked at radio-collared bears that move toward those heavily hunted areas. They’ve figured out, and in the fall they move to those areas because there will be an abundant food source.”
News flash: Bears are hungry
Grizzlies could be called the garbage disposal of the animal kingdom, as they will eat just about anything, according to Bruscino.
“I’ve seen them eat Spam in a can, hydraulic hoses, snowmobile seats, glass, everything you can think of,” he said. “They’re eating machines. Of course, they have to obtain the calories to live all year and about the six months they are out in hibernation. Those species are what we call ‘opportunistic omnivores.’ Basically, they will eat anything and everything they can find.”
Key foods include grasses, ungulates, roots and berries, moths, white-bark pine nuts and cutthroat trout, to name just a few examples. When the grizzlies come out of hibernation, the first places they go to are winter ranges to forage what’s left of winter-killed animals.
“There really isn’t that much to eat that time of year,” Bruscino said. “As the summer progresses, and the spawn starts, especially around Yellowstone Lake, there can be as many as 100 different bears that fish those tributaries to the lake.”
Bruscino has also seen bears fishing in Swamp Lake up in Crandall in the fall, when the brook trout are spawning, as well as other creeks in the North Fork. Grizzlies also feed on elk and their calves.
“There is a very short time period, three to four weeks, when the elk calves are young enough to be caught,” Bruscino said. “Some grizzlies hunt them extensively. You can go into Lamar Valley any June and watch six or eight bears hunting elk calves.”
About mid-July, Bruscino said about 200 of the grizzlies move up in elevation to high-elevation “insect sites,” which are populated with enormous numbers of the army cutworm moth. The moths spend the summer nights feeding on the nectar of wild flowers in the mountains during the day, they burrow into the rocky slopes of the mountains to escape the sun. The grizzlies have figured this out, and can eat up to 40,000 moths a day.
“The moths are really high in fat and really high in protein,” Bruscino said. “We have about 50 sites, all in the Absaroka Range. This doesn’t occur anywhere else but right here in our own backyard. One site in particular has about 35 grizzlies on it from about July 15 to Sept. 15, feeding almost exclusively on these moths.”
This treasure trove of food keeps the bears off the valley floors and away from people and livestock, but only about a fifth of the Yellowstone bear population takes advantage.
“It’s fascinating to watch, if you’re ever riding up a trail and glass up on a slope and see a couple of bears up there, stop and watch,” Bruscino said. “They dig humongous holes trying to get at these moths.”
Currently protected under the Endangered Species Act, grizzlies could be delisted as soon as the end of the summer, according to Bruscino. That likely would result in a trophy-hunting season for bears that venture outside of Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.
After his presentation, Bruscino answered questions about grizzlies, though discussion seemed to circle back repeatedly to the delisting of bears and wolves. The former management supervisor said the increase in population in both species has made it necessary for a change.
“Wolves and bears are a valuable natural resource, but we’re at the point with both of these populations where they need to be managed like game animals,” Bruscino said. “This is from a guy that doesn’t care to hunt either one of them, but was a manager of them. What my career and what my education taught me about how to manage these critters when they are as abundant as they are now, you manage them like game animals. That conserves them, as well as gives you the tools to deal with them.”
The origin of the story
The bear in question was shot by Airman Ted Winnen, of Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, on Oct. 15, 2001, according to the North American Bear Center.
Winnen was deer hunting with a friend on Prince William Sound’s Hinchinbrook Island in Alaska, when they saw a bear fishing on the river.
Bear season was open, so when the bear was 10 yards away, Winnen “shot it through the head with a .388 Winchester Magnum and bowled it over,” according to the North American Bear Center’s fact-check.
A grizzly bear cub forages for food a few miles from the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana, on Sept. 25, 2013. (Photo: Alan Rogers /The Casper Star-Tribune via AP)
In an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, Winnen said while he was deer hunting, he had hoped for a shot at a bear, picking up proper permits before and bringing the right gun.
“It was amazing,” he said. ““I picked up the paw and it was like, ‘good God.’ The thing was as wide as my chest.”
The bear was 10 feet, 6 inches, which is large for a grizzly in the Prince Williams Sound area, but not a world record, according to Snopes. It weighed in at about 1,200 pounds.
History of Listing & Delisting (1975 to 2018)
On July 28, 1975, under the authority of the Endangered Species Act, as amended, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listed four distinct populations of grizzly bear in the lower 48 states as “threatened,” in part, because the species was reduced to only about 2% of its former range south of Canada. Five or six small populations were thought to remain, totaling 800 to 1,000 bears. The southernmost—and most isolated—of those populations was in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), where 136 grizzly bears were thought to live in the mid-1970s. The goal of an Endangered Species Act listing is to recover a species to self-sustaining, viable populations that no longer need protection. To achieve this goal, federal and state agencies:
- Stopped the grizzly hunting seasons in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (outside national park boundaries).
- Established the Yellowstone grizzly bear recovery area (Yellowstone National Park, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, portions of Grand Teton National Park, national forests surrounding Yellowstone, Bureau of Land Management lands, and state and private land in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming).
- Created the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team to coordinate bear research and monitoring among the federal agencies and state wildlife managers the team monitors bear populations and studies grizzly bear food habits and behavior.
- Established the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee to increase communication and cooperation among managers in all recovery areas, and to supervise public education programs, sanitation initiatives, and research studies.
The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan was established in 1993 and revised in 2006. This plan guides management when the grizzly is on the threatened species list.
Bear managers will use the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy if the GYE population of grizzly bear is removed from the threatened and endangered species list. The Conservation Strategy is the long-term guide for managing and monitoring the grizzly bear population and assuring sufficient habitat to maintain recovery. It emphasizes coordination and cooperative working relationships among management agencies, landowners, and the public to ensure public support, continue the application of best scientific principles, and maintain effective actions to benefit the coexistence of grizzlies and humans. It incorporates existing laws, regulations, policies, and goals. The strategy has built-in flexibility: