Several years ago, I read about a college student who was studying small fur bearers between Lake Tahoe and Susanville. As part of his research, the fellow was running a trapline to obtain specimens to study. He soon developed a problem with some sort of larger predator raiding his traps and eating the small critters trapped therein.
Being a bright young grad student the guy set out to catch the malfeasor that was raiding his traps. An entire season of effort produced no results, except that the grad student was finally able to get some hair samples which the trap raider had left on a barbed wire fence. Lab analysis revealed that that the hairs were left by a wolverine! Since the advent of trail cameras there have been numerous photos taken of the extinct California Wolverine Pretty amazing, huh? Heck, I didn't even know we ever had wolverines in California.
A similar story involves the resurgence of California’s Tule Elk. Some 34 years ago DFG biologists transplanted about 25 elk from Owens Valley up to a large park on the other side of Mount Hamilton near San Jose. The elk were being held in a corral up in a remote part of the park to get them acclimated to the area prior to their release. When I hiked up to see them just before their release, I was carrying my baby daughter Julie in a backpack. Julie is a Mom now with small children of her own and the elk have prospered in the ensuing years. Now, my Bo and I see a magnificent Tule Elk almost every time we visit the costal hills.
Did you ever go to the Academy of Science in San Francisco and see the stuffed California Grizzly on display? I always thought it was kind of sad that the great bear that adorns our flag was no more. Wouldn't it be magnificent if the California Grizzly were still with us? I'll let you in on a little secret, they are still with us. No jive! I know a fellow who is a licensed bear guide, and who has hunted bear in California for almost 50 years. You can tell a guy is a real bear hunter when he begins to roll up his sleeves and pant cuffs to show you his scars. Or when he takes out his glass eye. This guy knows bears like Tiger Woods knows golf. A couple of years ago my bear guide buddy was backpacking in a really remote part of California, when he was charged by a grizzly. A novice hiker might mistake a large black bear for a grizzly, but not this guy.
Officially, the California Grizzly has been extinct since 1922. Fortunately The wild California Grizzlies still out there don’t know they’re extinct. Is it possible there are still some wild grizzlies in some really remote corner of California? I’m convinced there are. One day soon, tyou might just read about the official re-discovery of the fabled California Grizzly Bear. Just remember, you read it here first.
We have much to be grateful for in California, a great climate, fertile soil, abundant water and a wonderful array of wildlife. We should thank the good Lord for having blessed us so abundantly. We should also say thanks to our Fish and Game department and the dedicated employees who work so hard to steward these magnificent wild gifts. They are a part of our heritage and if we are careful, they can continue to be a part of our future. Hey! Get out there and enjoy that wonderful wildlife heritage of ours.
Until next week, Tight Lines