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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

American, Spanish and Mexican miners and Rancheros drove the California Grizzly population(the most dense in the lower 48 states in the year 1500) to extinction, with rapid extirpation in the 50 years starting from the 1850 Goldrush..............Not only were the Bears shot and killed on sight throughout their California range, they were also captured and tortured, enduring "cockfights" with domestic Bulls for the pleasure and sport of the so-called Civilized man--Euro Americans...............On the California State Seal the Grizzly is............Whether it be the Vermont Catamount(Puma) or the California Griz, we humans put our animal cousins on our state seals and flags,,,,,,,,,,,nickname our sports teams and cars after them,,,,,,,,,,,,allude to our military units by their names...............We honor them in every way but the most critical--the right to live among us------Will we ever truly become civilized enough not to shoot and trap Grizzlies and other Carnivores ??????????????

The grizzly bear was the largest creature in California. Distinguished by its size, weight, brown fur and humped shoulders, the bear was feared, hunted and honored by Native Americans, early explorers, trappers and miners.
The Spanish and Mexican rancheros, however, began using this noble creature for entertainment.
A bear would be captured in the wild and dragged on a stiff bull's hide to a plaza in one of the mission pueblos or to a corral at a rancho.

The left rear paw of the bear would then be tethered to the right front leg of an enormous bull. The frightened animals would then fight to the death.
The bear would usually be gored to death by the upward motion of the bull's horns. The stoop-shouldered bear aggravated its own fate by downward thrusts, often impaling its paunch on the sharpened horns.
A San Francisco merchant once observed a "bull and bear" fight in our region. He later coined the phrases "bull market" for a period of rising values for stocks and commodities. A "bear market" was when values decline like the downward thrusts of the bear.
In 1849, J. Ross Browne, serving as a federal revenue agent, visited Joaquin Estrada's Rancho Santa Margarita. Brown kept a diary that he later turned into both East Coast magazine articles and a book titled Crusoe's Island . . . with Sketches of Adventures in California and Washoe [Nevada territory]. He described how a grizzly was captured for the "Bull and Bear Baiting" entertainment at the rancho.
It required four or five mounted vaqueros with their riatas, lassoing the bear's neck and limbs until "It was apparent that his wind was giving out."
But even then, "sometimes by a desperate effort he regained his feet and actually dragged one or more of the horses toward him by [brute] strength but whenever he attempted the others drew tighter their lazoes and choked him or jerked him up on his haunches."
After watching the bear being tethered, Browne had no desire to stay and watch the entertainment that followed.
By the 1860s, the grizzly bear was hunted into near extinction. The last surviving grizzly was killed in the Sespe Gorge wilderness of Ventura County in 1922.
Dan Krieger's column is special to The Tribune. He is a professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly and president of the California Mission Studies Association

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