Symbol of the State: Bringing the Grizzly Bear Back to California

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!

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


  1. There are a lot of things that could be restored in California, but grizzlies? What would they live on? Nuts and berries? The deer herds have been decimated in the Sierras. I say bring back the grizzlies to Mount Tamalpais and lets see how they do.

  2. I would love to see the great animal return to California. There is a lot of remote wilderness they could be introduced to. Let’s do this!

  3. ABSOLUTELY NOT! Other western states are a prime example of uncontrollable predator attacks on human and domestic animal populations. These aren’t teddy bears, folks. Mountain lions aren’t cuddly kittens. Wolves aren’t playful pups. A reality check is needed here.

  4. Until our elected officials work at protecting our forest against wild fires and cultivate an enviroment that is conducive for the bears and other wildlife that will give them the substance they need there should be no re-introduction; this sad but we have not taken care of our forest and wildlife isn’t growing they are dieing out.

  5. There is plenty of room in Modoc and Siskiyou counties. Every other species has been protected and fostered yet the symbol of our state was exterminated long before current societal mores would have prevented that. They were exterminated for fun and profit: bull bear fights and bear steaks for miners, not because they were dangerous. There is plenty of room, it would complete the structure of environmental restoration begun in the 60’s and 70’s and give every young bad boy a reason to take an interest in the larger environment as opposed to mere personal sartorial decoration of hats and shirts. Creation of a whole new conscious stakeholding group for our natural environment. And a statement that however large our human population we Californians remain staunchly protective and proactive of our beautiful land and it’s creatures. What’s not to love?

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