It’s been nearly a century since the last grizzly bear sighting in California was reported.
Before their Golden State extinction, some 10,000 grizzlies roamed the Sierra to the Pacific Ocean. Now, there are only an estimated 1,500 grizzly bears remaining in the country as a whole, mostly in parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife to bring back the bears to California. Since then, the petition has reached more than 15,000 signatures and a similar push to reintroduce grizzlies has made its way to the North Cascades in Washington.
Advocates say there is enough land to support both humans and a small population of grizzlies in the state, while opponents point to their fearsome reputation and dangers for hikers and nearby residents. Just last year, the grizzly bear was also removed from the endangered species list, losing 42 years of Yellowstone protections.
How viable would bringing grizzlies back to their natural California habitat be? Is it feasible? Where would they be reintroduced and how would those efforts be determined?
Charlton H. Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife