Lecture to examine grizzly bears’ past, future

California’s grizzlies have been extinct for nearly a century, but they remain the state’s official mascot.

Staff Report

California was home to as many as 10,000 grizzly bears before the Gold Rush, but they have been extinct for nearly a century.

The last credible sighting of a wild “chaparral bear” occurred near Sequoia National Park in 1924, but the California’s grizzly remains our official mascot and some Californians are beginning to wonder whether it is time to bring them back.

Pete Alagona is an associate professor of history, geography and environmental studies at UCSB.

A free lecture by Pete Alagona at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Grange Hall in Los Olivos will discuss the work of the California Grizzly Study Group, a project launched in 2016 at UCSB that is conducting the first major study of 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 and held fellowships at Harvard and Stanford.

An environmental historian by training, his work explores what happens when humans share habitats with other species. He has published more than four dozen books and articles on these 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 Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society’s lectures are free and open to everyone.  A list of upcoming lectures and field trips can be found at www.syvnature.org.

For more information, call or write to the society at synature@west.net or 805-693-5683, or contact Carey McKinnon of the co-sponsor, Los Olivos Library, at 805-688-4214.