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Grizzly Bears in California again?
Don Moyer mug

In my humble opinion, one of the best movies in the past few decades was Jurassic Park. The movie was based on the idea that scientists could use DNA from mosquitoes preserved in ancient amber to clone dinosaurs today. Now someone has come up with the idea that we could use DNA from a stuffed grizzly on display in a museum in San Francisco to clone one or more California Grizzlies and re-introduce them into California’s wilderness.

Untold thousands of school kids visit the California Academy of Science in San Francisco and see the extinct 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 may still with us. No jive!

I shot my first Black Bear in 1976 and became hooked on bear hunting. My brother in law, David was an old Oakie boy who had grown up hunting bears with his dad.  As the decades passed my son joined me in our bear hunts. When you get a fair-sized bear and take it to the butcher, you will probably have enough meat to fill your freezer. When either my son or I get our second bear, we donate the packaged meat to the gospel mission to help feed the hungry.

David was a licensed bear guide, and who had hunted bear in California for over 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. A couple of years ago David was backpacking in a really remote part of California, when he was charged by a grizzly and had to kill it in self defense. A novice hiker might mistake a large black bear for a grizzly, but not this guy. When I asked him what he did with the Grizzly he’d killed, he replied that he left it right where it fell, observing “There was no way I was going to prison for killing the last California Grizzly”. 

A further confirmation of the Grizzlies in California theory was a conversation I had with a biologist employed by the California State Parks. In the course of our conversation, I asked what his educational background was and he mentioned that he got his Masters degree studying urban bears in California. When I ran my California Grizzly theory past him, the bear biologist told me that every year there are some huge bears taken in California, and that because Grizzly Bears are officially extinct, that these huge bears are routinely catalogued as Black Bears. The fellow winked and said that the “state never makes mistakes”.

Officially the California Grizzly has been extinct since 1922. Fortunately, the 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, you might just read about the official re-introduction of the fabled California Grizzly Bear.


Until Next Week,

Tight Lines