The Grizzly Bear is, and always has been, one of the most fascinating wild animals that has ever lived in this country. The Grizzly is a California native and, at one time, was estimated to number over 10,000 in the state with at least 100,000 living in the West. For many centuries, this bear lived undisturbed and quietly in California’s mild climate, with all the food and water a bear would want or need. Later Grizzlies lived in a somewhat peaceful coexistence with the Native American tribes, each respecting the other.
However, with the arrival of the “white man” and their guns, life changed dramatically for the Grizzly. Having read many historical accounts of the history of the Grizzly, it seemed that the goal of these early settlers was to rid California of all Grizzlies.
The story of the demise of the Grizzly Bear in California (which is very similar to what happened to the Buffalo in other parts of the West) is a very sad tale. Today there are NO live Grizzlies living in California. But, in Alaska and four of the lower 48 states, including Montana, limited numbers continue to survive. I have seen Grizzlies in Montana and I think that is where I acquired a great interest in not only Bears, but wildlife in general. In the case of the Grizzly, I began to wonder if 10,000 of this magnificent species could be eliminated in California in such a short time (approximately 20-40 years), what does the future hold in store for other species of wildlife and how could we, as their caretakers, help to insure their survival?
In an attempt to answer that question, and to try to help in some small way, my husband and I formed the Jacquemain-Gledhill Creekspirit Foundation (d.b.a Creekspirit Wildlife Foundation) in 2003, a 501(c)3 Private Operating Foundation created to provide private support to preserve the wildlife of California and the West through education, conservation, collaboration, and inspiration. I discovered that it is not easy to help animals that are self-sufficient, live in the wild, and protected by the government. We are told not to capture or feed them, less they become dependent on humans. And even when wildlife is sick, or as I mentioned in my last post, hurt in our many wildfires, it is difficult for us humans to help them.
When left alone, with open space to live, a wild animal can live very well without human intervention. They do not need, or want, us normally. However, what they desperately need is room to roam and hunt. For our wild animals, that is the one way we humans can help their survival in this development crazy world – preserve some open areas, void of human habitation, for them to live.
Personally, because there are so many restrictions about human-animal contact, the way I hope our Foundation can help is through education. Without seeing wildlife on a regular basis in today’s world, we tend to forget that these animals are still out there in the backcountry, hills, and mountains. However, we must keep the stories, pictures, and art of them in front of children and adults alike so that the generations that follow us maintain an awareness of their importance to our way of life. That is the goal of my Creekspirit Wildlife Foundation. To find out more about it, please visit our web site at www.creekspirit.org.
No one was as awesome as me!
The great California Grizzly.
Those of us who lived in this state,
Experienced a tragic fate.
It’s a heartbreaking tale to tell,
For the Grizzlies, nothing went well.
We were majestic natives . . . all,
Through persecution, we stood tall.
But I’m thankful . . .
There are still some wide open spaces,
Where Grizzlies can live in wild places.