Not so long ago, thousands of grizzlies roamed much of the California, including the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, in the years before the Gold Rush, it’s believed that there were some 10,000 grizzlies thriving in the Golden State. So what happened to all these bears? In the mid-1800s, as settlers rushed in to make their fortunes on gold, grizzly numbers began to plummet, and by the 1920s, the last California grizzly had been killed.
But some wildlife advocates have been hatching a plan to bring the iconic bears back to California. In particular, the Center for Biological Diversity has led a call for grizzly reintroduction, and the enchanting if somewhat controversial proposal has captured the public imagination, at least in certain circles. Terra Verde host and Earth Island Journal Managing Editor Zoe Loftus-Farren talks with Noah Greenwald, Endangered Species Director with the Center for Biological Diversity, and Peter Alagona, associate professor of history, geography, and environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and founder of the California Grizzly Research Network about what a grizzly introduction would mean in a state that has changed quite a bit since the last bears roamed here.