Grizzlies in Yosemite

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     We all know that the Grizzly Bear is on the State Flag for California. But why? There are none in the state – except for a couple zoos. So what’s the story? Turns out there WERE lots of grizzlies here. There were estimated to be about 10,000 in the country in the mid 1800’s. That’s of the estimated 250,000 that once prowled the lands in America and abroad. Today you’ll need to get to Yellowstone or Denali or Glacier National Parks to go face-to-face in the wild. You could also head to Russia where the largest numbers live. In fact Russia has over 100,000 of these big guys. Alaska and Canada each have about 30,000. Eastern Europe has 5,000 and another 1,000 are spread between Yellowstone, Montana and Idaho.

     They are called “Grizzlies” because the tips of their fur is often white and gives a grizzled appearance. Hummm. They are huge and can stand 9 feet and weight over 800 pounds. (The Bison is actually the largest North American land animal standing on all fours it can reach 7 feet to the shoulders.) The Yo Semite Indians were known for their ability to kill grizzlies. After the gold rush, hunting grizzlies was a recreation sport. Not for the food, but just for the thrill, until they were literally hunted to extinction. The last verifiable shooting was in 1908 in the Santa Ana area, although unconfirmed “sightings” were rumored to have been made as late as the early 1920’s.

     How did the bear end up on the state flag? Turns out that publishing magnate William Randoph Hearst had a small zoo at his San Simeon mansion. He got a grizzly as a cub and he used it to promote his paper empire. He named the bear, “Monarch of the Dailies.” He lived for 22 years there until his death in 1911. Monarch was the symbol for the recovery after the 1906 earthquake.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I was never so near Heaven in my life.” – H. WINDEL, San Francisc, 1882.

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –


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