The fearsome grizzly bear attracted a lot of attention and response last week in a column by Mariel Garza about a proposal to reintroduce the brown bear to the Golden State. In a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an environmental group is urging more recovery zones for the grizzly, which was once native to California and other parts of the West.
More than 1,500 people participated in our survey. While a majority of those who took the survey were favorable to seeing grizzlies in Yosemite National Park, most readers who wrote letters objected to returning the bears to California, when we asked the question: “What do you think of the plan to reintroduce grizzly bears to California?”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Grizzlies are dangerous predators
Re “The return of the grizzly” (Forum, Mariel Garza, July 13): Grizzlies are not cute, cuddly bears. They are super-predators, the size of a Clydesdale. The Spanish identified them as the biggest danger. The Americans concurred. It took 100 years of concerted effort to rid us of these 1-ton monsters.
Richard Macovis, Folsom
Backpacker wary of bears
As a backpacker in the Sierra who has hiked for hundreds of miles and for many years, I have no love for bears. They are omnivorous, all hours of the day and night. Plus, they are able to outsmart almost every attempt to hide food, down to the last candy bar wrapper. To be days away from resupply and have all of your food stolen is not only inconvenient but dangerous.
The number of black bears in the Sierra is several times their historic number already. We don’t need to add cantankerous grizzlies to the population.
Allen Jamieson, Sacramento
Grizzly belongs in California
Thank you for the thoughtful article about the possibility of reintroducing the grizzly to California. It is long overdue for the brown bear to return to our state. I believe that man and grizzly can live alongside each other if man remains respectful of the power grizzly.
I watched the reintroduction of the wolf into Yellowstone with much interest and continue to track the life of OR7 as he begins a life in California and Oregon. Having the grizzly back in the chain of animal life will enhance the wild lands of California, and its absence has left a hole in that chain.
It will take a thoughtful public education campaign, but there is hope here. I look forward to the time when the brown bear will once again roam our state.
Liz Williams, Foresthill
Predators, population a deadly pairing
Having backpacked and camped in wilderness for many years, I am generally very positive toward the idea of habitat restoration. I support limited reintroduction of the gray wolf to more areas of the West, for example. However, I do not support reintroducing grizzly bears to California.
Our state is approaching a population of 40 million. This is not Alaska, Montana or Wyoming. Close contact between humans and grizzlies is a certainty and will happen much more frequently in California, with deadly results.
Grizzlies are a special type of large predator, unique and unchallenged in the food chain, which includes humans. Reintroduction of such a massive predator into such a populous state is a recipe for trouble.
One advocate suggests several hundred grizzlies for the Yosemite and Sequoia-King’s Canyon area. Seriously? Anyone who spends time in these places knows what a ridiculous idea this is.
Stafford Hebert, Elk Grove
True naturalists welcome grizzly
Fear and anxiety drive all kinds of crimes against humanity as they do against the natural world. Mariel Garza can be applauded for writing “The return of the grizzly,” but her opinion that grizzlies should not be let loose in Yosemite demonstrates that she totally misunderstands the larger issues.
Bragging about all the years she’s logged hiking in the mountains does not give her credentials as either a naturalist or an environmentalist. Her natural world is one in which she picks and chooses which creatures will inhabit it. That’s not natural at all. Yosemite will not be made safer by the return of the grizzly, but safety is not its purpose. There are lots of small regional parks where Garza can walk the trails in relative safety.
A great many of us, true naturalists, are indeed thrilled by the prospect of the return of the grizzly to California.
Clay Cockrill, Pine Grove
Hikers, campers at risk
You have got to be kidding. I’ve spent time in Yosemite and know how food attracts all bears. It’s always a problem now with black bears.
Would you worry about some young hiker or camper being torn apart by a grizzly? If it were your child or friend, would you think it was such a good idea? I wouldn’t want such a dangerous animal in the midst of our vacationers.
Greig Nakamoto, Lincoln
Leave wild areas for the animals
I disagree with Mariel Garza’s contention that returning the grizzly bear to the Sierra Nevada, including the Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks, would be a bad idea. I have backpacked on numerous occasions in all three areas, and the great majority of these areas are places where very few people go. The highly populated areas like the Yosemite Valley floor and the Pacific Crest Trail tend to be avoided by large predator and prey animals.
I have also backpacked in areas where grizzly bears are common and have never encountered a problem in avoiding them. Leave some wild areas for the animals and make human entertainment a secondary concern.
David Fraga, Sacramento
Idea is expensive, nonsensical
It makes no sense to suggest we bring the grizzly back to California for three reasons.
1. We lived without them 90 years.
2. Who is going to fund this? The taxpayers, when both state and federal are broke?
3. Why were they killed off? Because they were dangerous to humans, livestock and pets.
We spend millions to make our state safe, and we propose to bring back a dangerous animal just because it was once native to our state. The environmental group needs a serious wake-up call.
Robert Amma, Isleton
Humans at risk – ask Alaskans
We cannot go back in time by returning grizzly bears to an area where they were removed. Grizzlies kill people. Once grizzlies are in an area, humans are at risk for their lives.
Just ask people from Alaska. They take evening walks or any walk in the wild with a high-powered gun.
John Harper, Roseville
Casualty is inevitable
Introducing one of the world’s most vicious predators back into the most populous state in the union is irresponsible. I’ve been hunted by a grizzly. Unlike their black bear cousins, these bears are territorial and a normal, healthy grizzly will kill you.
Even when confined to remote areas, grizzlies still manage to kill people on a regular basis, such as in Canada, Alaska and even parts of Montana. There is plenty of habitat for their survival in those areas. Bringing them back into the Sierra, no matter where, will certainly result in another casualty.
It’s moronic to even think a grizzly should reside in California anywhere outside of a zoo. Some of these biologists belong there as well.
Mike Hooper, Carmichael
Why were grizzlies eradicated?
Bringing grizzly bears back to California is a bad idea.
It is true the brown bear was saved from extinction and can be seen in zoos, and they are amazing animals to see. The question to be asked is, why did our grandparents eliminate them from California’s wild places in the first place?
David Wilcox, Elk Grove
Territorial instincts a problem
I have fished Yellowstone National Park for more than 50 years and I have been around grizzly bears. Grizzlies are territorial. If you invade their territory, they will hunt you down. Even with bear spray, I wouldn’t attempt to fish some areas of Yellowstone where the trout are plentiful and hungry but so are the grizzles.
Bringing grizzlies back to the Sierras is a bad idea.
John West, Sacramento
David E Masche – I have walked with the Grizzlies in Hallo Bay, Alaska, last July for six hours getting as close as 20 feet to a mother bear and her two cubs. I and five others were led by an experienced guide. We saw more than 35 grizzlies and we had no guns or bear spray. During this trip I had no fear of the grizzlies. It was the trip of a lifetime for me. However, I do not recommend that we bring them to populated areas in California. They can be dangerous if (you) do not respect their territory
Dee Dee Gunther – I like wildlife, but grizzlies? No way. Our black bears have enough competition already, and at least they can be scared away. This reminds me of Jeff Goldblum’s speech in Jurassic Park about why bringing the dinosaurs back was a bad idea.
Jared Zucker – Sounds like a great idea if they are truly able to reclaim their habitat without the fear of the bullet.
Paula Yokoyama – An awful plan. Don’t do it.
Teaeli Anderson – I do not want grizzlies in California. I worry enough about black bears and mountain lions when I’m in nature. Why do we need the biggest, meanest bear of all back here?
Raymond Sanchez – What grizzly bear wouldn’t fall in love with our forest fires and dried up creeks full of genetically modified inbred salmon corpses?
David Rosensteel – Hiking and climbing Half Dome is hard enough without having to carry along a rifle to ward off a grizzly bear. Leave them out of Yosemite.
James Jewell – The simple reason is it does not benefit the grizzly to come back. The people would be reintroducing an animal that they know will end up having human confrontation and more than likely have to be killed in the process. So to bring back an animal just so we can kill it seems stupid and harmful to the species.
Rick Spencer – It seems to me that a large argument for the re-population of the species was the grizzly’s appearance on our flag and the fact that it’s our official state animal. I think better energy would be spent by petitioning to have both things changed to the black bear or maybe a fuzzy bunny. I would be all for the reintroduction of fuzzy bunnies into the backcountry. With the exception of one nasty bunny from “Monty Python and The Holy Grail,” fuzzy bunnies don’t kill happy backcountry wanderers.