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Grizzlies in California?

Grizzly on mountInsanity is often defined as repeating the same action and expecting a different result. Yet here we sit with green groups proposing an expansion of the grizzly bear’s range into other national parks and refuges. On the surface this doesn’t seem like a terrible idea but let‘s take a hard look at historic precedent and see where this could really take us.

Many people didn’t think the wolf debate would be as ugly as it has been. My grandfather, Gordon Eastman hit the nail on the head when he predicted that wolves would be the losers if they were transplanted from Canada into Yellowstone. Lo and behold, look at what happened, they are one of the most polarizing species in the Lower 48. What did we really expect though? Did we think they would behave like anything other than wolves? They are creatures designed to hunt and left unchecked they have been very effective at being themselves.

Therein lies the bigger problem with transplanting grizzly bears into areas where they have not roamed in many years. Areas of California and the Grand Canyon are at the top of the list of transplant locations. Grizzlies will continue to be the aggressive beasts that they are and when they scare the general population who thought they were just cute teddy bears, we will have serious problems. Adding a super-predator into the ecosystem won’t just have an effect on game populations; it will also cause negative interactions with humans.

What should we really expect though? Should we expect the bear to behave politely and then we throw up our hands in disgust when the animal acts like its instincts tell it to? But wait; could the problem be we don’t really get it when we transplant some of these game-changing predators?

Not far from where we call home, we had a grizzly bear behaving like a bear late last spring. This bear saw fit to maul a local farmer who was irrigating his field. Game and Fish responded by starting an effort to trap the guilty party, which happened to have two cubs. The plan was relocation for the problem bear but there is often a strike system for animals that misbehave. One too many strikes and the bear is done.

I never heard whether they caught the offending bear but let‘s take a hard look at this one incident. Three bears were involved, one in the actual offense and two learning that humans are not something to be feared. Bears are smart and learn quickly which means these two younger animals will now be less likely to fear humans as long as they are unchallenged where they live. Let’s also take into account that this proud mamma bear wasn’t cornered in some backcountry elk-hunting honey hole. She was in the lowest of the low areas where a farmer has to pump water onto his fields! Let that sink in for a while. Not only is the grizzly’s range expanding but they are now pushing into areas where there will be more conflict.

The solution is not to move all the problem bears into areas where they currently don’t live or where they won’t bump into us anymore. The solution is to follow the North American Model of Wildlife Management that has provided us with the healthiest big game populations in the world. Hunting grizzly bears in the Lower 48 would mean that we can manage healthy populations, retrain them to fear humans and in the process bolster budgets of wildlife management entities that are cash strapped. However, that might just make too much sense. If the fine people of Arizona and California would like to deal with grizzly bears in their backyards, I’m sure Wyoming would be happy to give them some.


About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. Great editorial. Unfortunately, common sense will not prevail on this issue.

  2. A. Scott Bunton

    Could not have said it any better – make sure to give them some wolves as well – maybe two wolves for each bear.

  3. Here is CA, they will welcome them all with open arms.

  4. Those pushing for re-introduction probably imagine the grizzlies roaming the remote and wild Sierra Nevada, when in truth grizzlies historically occupied the valley floors, among massive herds of Thule elk. Today the valley floors are urban sprawl and the elk all but gone, relegated to very small isolated pockets with closely managed herds. Turning loose a top tier predator on these small herds could have only negative outcomes for the bears and their food source. In the end I imagine the grizzly becoming a hand fed pet of those who continue to insist they belong in our wild places, just like our “wild” condors that are sustained by a steady supply of meat left for them by rangers and volunteers because they are unable to support themselves.

    The below article is a good argument against re-introduction by someone with a different standpoint from ours as hunters, with much the same reasoning. Unfortunately in our state wildlife management is an emotionally driven rather than science based process, i.e. condors, lead bans, mountain lions and hound hunting.



    Actually they should have started hunting grizzlies years ago. Way too much talk and studies before some action takes place. It will now take longer to give the bears some much needed fear because there are so many of them and their territory has expanded so much. The same is true for the wolves. Hunting some of them should have been done years ago. Hopefully late is better than not at all.

  6. I think this is an excellent idea….long overdue. There are just way too many people living in California. Way too much smog, crime, traffic jams and I am sick of it all. After all, the bears have to eat and what better….lower the population in California. You either get eatin or you move out of here. Win win the way I see it.
    I’ll stay and take my chances. Goooooo Grizzlies! Sure bring wolves too….there are no more deer here.

  7. william francis

    here in ca. they should relocate them to the capital..

  8. One of the reasons the grizzly bear and wolf population has grown so well is that their food source is not conditioned to fear them, much the same way the bears have been conditioned not to fear us. So, if they reintroduce either species in an area where they have not been for 100 years, they will decimate the game population, as well as a number of other species. The primary reason they should NOT be reintroduced and SHOULD be managed through hunting and predator control where they do now exist is the value of those species whose populations are affected. The thousands of deer, elk, etc that will be lost are worth far more to states than the benefits of having these apex predators back in traditional ranges. As important, domestic animals also have no defense against these predators and the cost to local farmers and ranchers would also far out weigh the benefit of reintroduction. Bringing these beasts back to areas where they do not now exist is a lose-lose for all. So is a non-action plan to manage them where they do exist.

    • They greenies are banging the drum for the reintroduction of the wolf in Colorado, and the DOW have been holding Town Hall type meetings for the last year. Now they also want to reintroduce the Grizzly. I can only guess the reason for the reintroduction of these two top tier apex predators is to kill off the elk, and whats left of the muley’s. If you can no longer hunt those animals then “you don’t have a reason” to own a rifle/shotgun/pistol/butterknife etc…

    • They did, read the history books lewis and clark were starving when they came into what is now Idaho because there was no game. many of the places that have elk here in Idaho never had elk 200 years ago. The old timers talk about how they had to transplant elk in box cars to areas like salmon and much of Idaho.

  9. Grizz has the right idea.

  10. This is great news maybe the first group can be placed on the Mexican border !

  11. Gordon Dempsey

    There is NO PLACE, may I repeat NO PLACE, in the Lower 48 to relocate a problem bear to that the bear will never interact with another human or not return to his/her home territory. As vast as Alaska is, and relocating problem bears by helicopter, Bears often “come home” or start interacting with humans in the new area. Not only is there property loss for people living in remote areas, but the bear will now loose also. Since California is so GREEN, I would anticipate loss of human life when a cute crudely problem bear arises. Just my opinion as an Alaska resident, and having seen this for myself. GSD age 67, Alaska Resident since 1971

  12. Send them. I think it would be great to glass a couple of these city slickers that walk right through the middle of my hunt get eaten. That would be a great day out hunting. I’ve already see a black jaguar a few years back what the hell send a couple bears. As long as the liberals let us manage them and not overly protect them just because their picture is on our flag.

  13. Hey if they cause trouble even more reason for an open season on all predators

  14. I live in California and I have heard of reintroducing the grizzly bear many years ago. THAT’S A BAD IDEA!!!!!!!! California has a lot of people and there will be conflicts if not disaster. I hunt in the Trinity Alps Wilderness and if they put the grizzly in that wilderness then there will be problems. They are even wanting to reintroduce the gray wolf. OR7 has made a huge push for that to happen. California does not have a large population of elk for the wolf. Our deer herd is just now starting to rebuild from a bad winter 20 years ago. I hunted in Idaho for 4 years starting in 2000 and reading the problems with the wolf there will just wipe out the deer and elk in California. I have to be honest…I’m all for the survival of many species. I want our future generations to enjoy nature but let’s be realistic. Reintroduction of the grizzly and the wolf in California will be a disaster for all envolved including humans. I hope that the environmentalists WAKE UP!!! I really hope that this never happens.

  15. What foolishness. The first to suffer the reintroduction of such an apex predator will not just be our elk and deer populations, but the people who live closest to California’s remaining wilderness. It will not be long before the bear population grows and animals are pressured out beyond the areas of reintroduction. We already have more cougars then the deer population can support resulting in the cats moving into suburbanized forests in search of food. What does anyone think will happen with the Grizzlies? “Got Bears?”

  16. Now there is a stupid idea, even for California. The reason why the front range in Colorado is anti-gun and anti-hunting is all the California transplants who move there bring all their politics with them. Maybe Grizzly “Re-Introduction” isn’t such a bad idea, as long as they release them in Sacramento to thin the Demotard lawmakers.

  17. It may not be a bad idea reintroducing grizz to California, after all the California is over run with fruits and nuts……….

  18. You want to do a cheap slam at California? My family has been here for 150 years, and hunted every year. And you?

  19. Isn’t the grizzly on California state flag Maybe it’s time they come back. Back when Spain controlled the area was great sport of roping a grizz and a range bull and letting them go at each in the arena. Them were the days!

  20. I live, work and hunt in California and would love to see grizzlies here again. They used to roam our wild places freely and are part of our lost wildlife heritage – take a moment and look at the California State Flag. Yes there will be problems with them but we also protect the Great White Shark for very similar reasons. As far as my own response, I’ll just swap my .270 for my .338 and continue hunting.

    • If I remember correctly, great white sharks do not feed on deer fawns & elk calves. Perhaps replace the grizzly bear on the flag with a shark? Just an Idea….

    • Carl, you’re just as big of an idiot as the people trying to reintroduce the wolves and grizzlies.
      First, they reintroduced the non-native Mackenzie Valley grey wolf, instead of the native Northern Rocky Mountains back into Yellowstone. The grey wolf was left unregulated, much as it would be in California. This non-native apex predator spread and decimated moose, elk and deer populations, not only where they were released but also to the much more distance areas they spread to.
      The so-called “relief fund” they tried to establish to help ranchers who lost livestock is anything BUT relief. It’s covered with red tape and doesn’t consider the loss caused by stressed infertility.
      California’s F&W Dept. has mismanaged our big game populations for decades. This will be another ploy of mismanagement.
      Wolves and grizzlies do not belong back in California, unless they can be strictly managed and the appropriate subspecies native to the area are reintroduced. But in looking at other state’s efforts, this will never happen, especially not in California…too many dipshits like Carl live here.

  21. How about we collect all the wolf and grizzly advocates. Move them to a compound in an isolated area of California and move the grizzlies and wolves in with them?

  22. A little know fact is that there used to be salmon runs as far south as San Diego, with abundant runs into the Santa Ana mountains in today’s Orange County. Back in the days of the Spanish land grants and open range grazing of cattle, between the salmon runs, abundant cattle, and no real need to hibernate in the winter, the grizzlies in Southern California used to get very large.
    “In 1873 an even bigger grizzly was shot near Santa Clarita, along what is now the Antelope Valley Freeway, as noted by historian James D. Sleeper in “A Grizzly Introduction to the Santa Ana Mountains” (California Classics, 1976). John Lang, a Soledad Canyon rancher, found a cow that had been partially devoured by the bear. This colossus tipped the scales at 2,350 pounds. The weighing was witnessed by three pillars of Los Angeles society–Harris Newmark, J.P. Widney, M.D., and Walter Lindley, M.D.–who vouched for the result.”

    The last wild grizzly in Southern California was killed in Holy Jim Canyon (Santa Ana Mtns) in 1908.
    But to re-introduce them today? Utter madness.

  23. I believe in conservation,and management of all wildlife. The Grizzly tragedy is an utter mess of mismanagement. I believe we should shoot any bear that attacks a human, period. No relocation, no repatriation, shoot, and kill the problem bear. Sound harsh? Then you put yourself under a 500 lb grizzly, and enjoy the mauling, with feelings of impending viscious death.
    The gloves need to come off, we are the owners, and stewards of our world, and we are the ALPHA predators. There is no room for additional A predators in our ecosystems. Wolves, and bears need to be reduced to small manageble numbers. There are valid reasons early Americans eliminated wolves, and bears from the ecosystem, they competed with them for wildlife, and livestock.
    There is no room for additional A predators in the lower 48. A bounty needs to be placed on wolves, and the Grizzly needs to be hunted to small mangeble numbers.
    The dark clouds of wildlife mismangemnet are on the horizon. Bears, and wolves in the west, coyote explosion in the east. Hunting will decline at an alarming rate soon, across the country. It will take decades to restore ungulate numbers after the impending mismangemnet takes its full toll. The writing is on the wall

  24. Listen folks, all California is not liberal San Francisco or overdone LA. I live at 3000 ft above a town of 101 people. Most of you respondents in Wy, Mont, etc live in far more populated areas. If you would ever study the voting results of my state, you would see the coast from San Francisco to LA are where the majority of liberals are, and they are paid to vote that way. As far as your bears and wolves are concerned, we deal with black bears and mountain lions as needed, quietly. You keep the problems you allowed to happen, we will continue to deal with ours.

  25. I think “Ol Grizz will make a fine pet for Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer. I am SURE they can counsel the bears into making nicer, greener choices……………..WTH is wrong with these tools?

  26. I agree whole heartily and wish everyone pushing to relocate super predictors like grizzlies could meet people who have been mauled face to face.

  27. maybe those grizzly bears will eat some of those liberal californians…only problem is the lib’s probably don’t taste real good….little bitter not real sweet…need some sauce…

  28. I’d be 100% for the transplants if we put them in L.A., S.F. and Sacramento, where allthe tree hugging anti hunting, anti gun crowd are.

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