Grizzly bear fishing; photo © Han Meeuwsen / Nature Trek Canada (all rights reserved; used by permission).
Official State Animal of California
The California grizzly bear (Ursus californicus) was designated the official state animal of California in 1953; more than 30 years after the last one was killed. All State Mammals
The California grizzly bear is also honored on the state flag.
Extinction of the California Grizzly
Before grizzly bears were exterminated in California, this magnificent animal thrived in the great valleys and low mountains of the state (probably in greater numbers than anywhere else in North America).
As humans began to pour into California, the grizzly would not retreat from advancing civilization. Standing their ground, grizzly bears killed livestock and interfered with settlements. Less than 75 years after the discovery of gold, every grizzly bear in California had been tracked down and killed:
"The last one was killed in Tulare County in 1922, more than 20 years before the authority to regulate the taking of fish and wildlife was delegated to the California Fish and Game Commission by the State Legislature." (Quote from California State Library).
Today's Grizzly Bears
In 1975 The Endangered Species Act listed today's grizzly bears (Ursus arctos ssp.) as threatened with extinction.