Who Really Belongs on California's Flag?

For years a grizzly bear has graced California's state flag — but there hasn't been a grizzly in the wilds of the Golden State since 1924, when the last one was shot. But maybe it's time to bring them back to parts of the state.

The Center has launched a series of fun PSAs to raise the profile of grizzlies in California and encourage people to sign a petition urging the California Fish and Wildlife Commission to consider bringing these bears back to their native home in the Sierra Nevadas, where there are 8,000 square miles of prime habitat.

In four short videos, California archetypes make their case to be featured on the flag in place of the bear.


Watch and share these videos on Facebook (real-estate developer, yoga instructor, gay bear, plastic surgeon).

Of course, we like having the grizzly bear on the flag. It's just time to bring it back to California too. Returning these incredible animals to remote portions of the state would be a key step in rewilding parts of California and saving one of America's most iconic animals.

Grizzly bears once roamed across California for centuries, from the state's mountains to its valleys and beaches. But decades of persecution drove them off the landscape.

Today they survive in just a few pockets in the Rocky Mountains — roughly 4 percent of their historic range in the lower 48 states. If these endangered bears are going to recover, they need to be returned to more of their native homes in the American West (remote places typically far away from people).

In 2014 the Center filed a legal petition today calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to greatly expand its plans for recovering grizzly bears, including returning the iconic animals to vast portions of the American West. The petition identified 110,000 square miles of potential grizzly habitat in places like the Gila/Mogollon complex in Arizona and New Mexico, Utah's Uinta Mountains, California's Sierra Nevada and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Returning bears to some or all of these areas is a crucial step toward recovering them under the Endangered Species Act and could potentially triple the grizzly bear population in the lower 48 — from a meager 1,500 to 1,800 today to as many as 6,000.

And as for California? Well, it's time to get the conversation going about bringing bears back to the Golden State.