California grizzly bear
|California grizzly bear|
|Monarch, a preserved specimen.|
|Subspecies:||U. arctos californicus|
|Ursus arctos californicus
Merriam 1896, pp. 76–77
The California grizzly (Ursus arctos californicus) is an extinct subspecies of the grizzly, the very large North American brown bear. "Grizzly" refers to the golden and grey tips of its hair. Genetically, North American grizzlies are closely related; in size and coloring, the California grizzly was much like the grizzly of the southern coast of Alaska. In California, it was particularly admired for its beauty, size, and strength. Many accounts from pioneers describe grizzlies in long, bloody fights with angry longhorn bulls, and often winning. Early on, the grizzly became a symbol of the State, was the basis of the state flag, and historically, California was known as the "Bear State."
In 1866, a grizzly weighing 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg) was killed in Valley Center, California, the biggest bear ever found in California, unsurpassed until John Lang shot the world's biggest bear — 2,320 pounds (1,050 kg) — near his ranch by Canyon Country, in 1873.
California still has habitat for about 500 grizzlies  and if the North Cascade population recovers and expands, eventually the grizzly will likely return to California. There are however only about 20 of these bears remaining in that ecosystem.
Historically, all North American grizzlies were grouped together as one unique species until DNA testing revealed that they should properly be grouped taxonomically in the same species as the smaller, European brown bears. Thereafter, Californian grizzlies were re-classified in their own subspecies alongside the brown bear. Properly, all subspecies in North America are known as Grizzlies and until recently, the California Grizzly was classified Ursus horribilis.
Originally, California was known as the "Bear State" owing to extensive numbers of the world's largest bears, the blond and fierce California grizzlies, ranging throughout. Later, the nickname "Golden State" was added to draw financial investment to the State from imperial sources overseas.
Thus, the California grizzly bear is the official state animal, appearing on its flag. It is alluded to in the names of the sports teams of the University of California, Berkeley (the California Golden Bears), and of the University of California, Los Angeles (the UCLA Bruins) and in the mascot of University of California, Riverside (Scottie the Bear, dressed in a Highland kilt). The California Maritime Academy operates a training ship named "Golden Bear".
The last hunted California Grizzly Bear was shot in Tulare County, California in August 1922. Later, in 1924, a grizzly known to roam an area of the southern Sierras was spotted for the last time, and thereafter, grizzlies were never seen again in California.
- "Valley Center History Museum". Retrieved 2012-05-05.
- "Santa Clarita Signal". Retrieved 2013-08-02.
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- "History and Culture - State Symbols". California State Library. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
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- Solnit, Rebecca; Caron, Mona (2010), A California Bestiary, Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books, pp. 13–15, ISBN 978-1-59714-125-3
- Data related to Ursus arctos californicus at Wikispecies
- "Ursus arctos californicus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
- Ursus arctos californicus Merriam, 1896 at the Encyclopedia of Life
- Shaggy God - Topic: Ursus arctos californicus Merriam, 1896
- The Monarch Bear Institute
- Bring Back the California Grizzly
- Grizzly Bear National Monument (proposed)