Prior to the Gold Rush, California was home to as many as 10,000 grizzly bears. After 1849, the state’s grizzly population plummeted. The last credible reported sighting of a wild “chaparral bear” occurred near Sequoia National Park in 1924.
Today, California’s grizzlies are lost but not forgotten. They have been extinct in the state for nearly a century, but the grizzly remains the state’s official mascot.
Some Californians are beginning to wonder whether it is time to bring them back.
“The Past, Present, and Potential Future of Grizzlies in California” is a free lecture with Peter Alagona on Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Santa Ynez Valley Grange, located at 2374 Alamo Pintado Ave. in Los Olivos. The lecture starts at 7:30 p.m. and is co-hosted by the Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society and the Los Olivos Library.
Alagona will discuss the work of the California Grizzly Study Group, a project launched in 2016 at UCSB, which is conducting the first major study since 1955 to examine the past, present and potential future of grizzlies in California.
Alagona is an associate professor of history, geography and environmental studies at UCSB. Before coming to Santa Barbara, he studied at Northwestern University and UCLA. Alagona, who held fellowships at Harvard and Stanford, is an environmental historian by training. His work explores what happens when humans share space and resources — their habitats — with other species.
Alagona has published more than four dozen books and articles on wildlife and related topics, including “After the Grizzly: Endangered Species and the Politics of Place in California,” published by the University of California Press in 2013.
The SYV Natural History Society’s lectures are free and open to the public. A list of upcoming lectures and field trips sponsored by the society can be found at www.syvnature.org.
Contact the SYV Natural History Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or 693-5683; or phone Carey McKinnon at the Los Olivos Library at 688-4214.