Although the grizzly bear sits front-and-center on the California state flag, the animal hasn’t roamed California in nearly 100 years. Some people are trying to change that.
A group called Bring Back the Bears is running a series of Facebook ads in order to promote an online petition to reintroduce grizzly bears into the California wilderness. So far, the petition has collected over 20,000 signatures. See the video ads for yourself:
The grizzly bear is a heartfelt symbol for The Golden State. In the 1800’s, California was populated by nearly 10,000 grizzlies. At first, the 8-foot-tall, 800 pound beasts were hunted out of fear, eventually turning into a valuable fur trade. By 1924, all of the grizzly bears had left the state.
Today, fewer than 1,400 grizzly bears reside in the lower 48 states, with most living in or around Yellowstone National Park. Supporters of Bring Back the Bears have argued that reintroducing grizzlies into California could help national population numbers, and believe the remote areas of the Sierra Nevada are the perfect place to do so.
In 2016, a group based out of U.C. Santa Barbara started the Grizzly Study Group, researching just how a reintroduction of grizzlies into the state would work. The group has conducted public surveys, mapped out potential habitats, defined ethics surrounding the reintroduction and studied how grizzlies would affect the ecology of their new habitat.
The Grizzly Study Group’s survey’s have found that most Californian’s support a grizzly bear reintroduction plan.
So far, the California Department of Wildlife is skeptical of the movement, saying California struggles enough as it is to manage human and livestock encounters with predators such as wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions.
“It’s hard for me to even get my head wrapped around the idea that you would find a remote spot, and the first idea is, ‘Let’s put grizzly bears there,” said Jordan Traverso, spokewoman for the CDW.
It’s hard to imagine what a reintroduction would look like and how it may affect hikers and campers in the California wilderness. It seems like grizzly bears may not return to the state they symbolize for some time, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could see them in our wilderness again?
Do you think we should reintroduce grizzly bears into California? Let us know in the comments!