Alta Live: The Return of California’s Grizzly Bears

The last wild grizzly bear in Southern California was killed in 1916—is it possible these mighty bruins might once again roam the Golden State?

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Thank you so much for attending Alta Live with Professor Peter Alagona and Alta Live host Beth Spotswood. If you missed any part of our conversation, you can catch up right here.

Here are some notable quotes from the event:

  • On California’s historical relationship to the grizzly bear: “The history of the grizzly bear in California is actually, at least in evolutionary and geologic time, a relatively short one, a recent one. According to our group’s research…grizzlies actually didn’t arrive in California until very late in this region’s ecological history. Black bears have probably been in California on and off for almost a million years. Grizzly bears only arrived in the northern part of the state maybe 30,000 years ago.”
  • On the arguments in favor of returning grizzlies to California: “For me, there are a couple reasons. One of the reasons is ecological, that there are potential benefits of having these animals on the landscape, like there are for a lot of other large-bodied animals, including and especially carnivores. That’s one thing, but that, to me, is less significant than some other things. But that’s something people ask a lot about. Another one is an ethical question of, was it right to remove these animals from a place where they could have lived at that time?”
  • On the connection between Indigenous people and grizzly bears: “People who are leading wildlife conservation efforts through tribes in California will evaluate this and come to their own conclusions, and I would never want to speak for them, but opening up this conversation is an important thing as part of a larger recognition that what happened in California with Indigenous people and grizzlies is essentially the same exact process as what happened with Indigenous people and bison on the Great Plains. There was a concerted effort to remove Indigenous people in part by removing the animals they were more associated with.”

    Check out these links to some of the topics brought up this week.

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