My last posting was about the extinct California Grizzly Bear, and some of the trials and tribulations that grizzlies went through over the centuries in California and the West. At one time there were over 100,000 grizzlies in the Western States of this country and it is estimated about 10,000 lived in California alone. Throughout Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast, there were many grizzlies, especially after the early settlers came to colonize. In reading about that early period in California’s history, there are so many accounts of man vs. Bear – often ending in the needless killing of the grizzlies.
Grizzlies were true California natives and lived here since the Pleistocene era. However, they were not the only species of Bear that were natives. The American Black Bear also has survived since that early period of history. The bigger and stronger grizzly did not tolerate black bears, so rarely were the two bears living in the same areas. Black bear was smaller, less combative (except when a sow was with her cubs), and kept their distance from grizzlies and from man.
Because of their non-aggressive behavior and perseverance, today California has a robust population of Black Bears across the state, but not a single wild grizzly lives here.
In keeping with my fantasy of animals being able to speak and tell their own stories, if Black Bear could – I imagine this is what he might say:
There’s something that I want to say,
About that bear not here today.
Grizzly was powerful and strong,
We were not friends . . . didn’t get along.
Nevertheless, I do feel bad,
To lose a species, we once had.
Now that formidable grizzly bear,
Lives on our state flag . . . only there.