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http://texascryptidhunter.blogspot.com/2022/10/the-last-grizzly.html

The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) is North America’s most feared predator. While their fearsome reputation is somewhat overblown, few would argue just how intimidating these brown bears can be. Reaching weights of up to 800 lbs., able to run 35 mph in short bursts, and sporting some of the most terrifying claws in the animal kingdom, grizzlies are animals to be respected and left alone.

Grizzlies once roamed throughout the entire western United States and points south. These bears were able to thrive in different climates and geographies and ranged from the Great Plains, to the heavily forested mountains of the Rockies, and to the arid desert lands of the American Southwest and Mexico. But did they ever make Texas their home?

It is well-established that the smaller black bear (Ursus americanus) resides in Texas. These bruins are plentiful in the Big Bend country of west Texas and are beginning to return to the heavily wooded eastern portion of the Lone Star State; an area from whence they were hunted to the point of extirpation in the early 1900s. Despite having been absent from the region for decades, black bear lore remains strong there. Old timers still recount the story of a two-year-old child that disappeared into the Big Thicket of southeast Texas. The child was missing for weeks until she was found alive and well, but in the company of a jealous she-bear. The story goes that once the child was rescued, the sow bear tracked her down and showed up at the residence of the child’s family on the edge of the forest. The bear tried to break into the home – presumably to retrieve her “cub” – and had to be killed by the little girl’s father. Another story, often related by the great bear hunter, Ben Lilly, was the tale of a male bruin that was shot and wounded by a farmer. The bear survived and harbored such hate for the farmer that he tormented him for years afterward. The vengeful bear is said to have killed the farmer’s calves and colts and destroyed his crops. There are many more fantastic tales about black bear encounters in the Lone Star State, but are there any about grizzlies? Sadly, no.

Well, that isn’t completely true. There is one.

In his book, Bear Stories, Joe M. Evans tells the tale of the only grizzly bear ever officially documented in the Davis Mountains of west Texas. In fact, it is the only grizzly known to have ever been killed anywhere in the Lone Star State. There had been rumors that the great bears existed in limited numbers in the Davis Mountains years before, but by the 1890s – when the tale Evans tells took place - the suspected sub-species of grizzly that had been tentatively labeled texensis seemed to be completely absent from the region. As it turned out, at least one individual remained.

In those days, Evans and his friends – avid bear hunters all - held an annual bruin hunt in the Davis Mountains. “We took our families,” Evans wrote. “Those were happy days.” It was on November 2, 1890 when the hunters discovered the carcass of a partially eaten cow in a gulch near the head of Limpia Creek in Jeff Davis County. Near the carcass, the hunters discovered a bed of pine straw ten feet long. Next to the nest, a bear track. A BIG bear track. The print was thirteen inches long and right at six inches wide. The group quickly realized this was no black bear. In fact, it seemed the bruin was one of exceptional size and strength…even for a grizzly.

The giant bear had dragged the cow for one hundred yards down the side of a mountain. “In doing so," former Texas Ranger A. J. Sowell said, “The grizzly hung her around a small tree, but…continued to pull until he broke the tree down and then went on with his load, breaking the horns off the cow when they would hang on rocks.” The thought of an animal strong enough to accomplish such a feat gave more than just the hunters pause. Of the thirty-five bear dogs present, only four had the sand to take up the trail of the big grizzly. The dogs followed the great bear’s scent for five miles before they finally cornered him in a stand of pines.

The first two hunters to arrive on the scene were John Means and C. O. Finley. The pair opened up on the enormous bear with all they had. Each man pumped five rifle slugs into the grizzly, which they estimated weighed at least one thousand pounds. The roars of the enraged, and now dying, grizzly echoed through the canyon, reaching the ears of the rest of the hunting party still a mile away. The massive grizzly did manage to take a small measure of revenge before expiring, killing one of the prized bear dogs with a single swipe of one of its huge, clawed paws. “He literally, broke the dog to pieces,” Evans wrote.

The hunters had the bear’s hide – which took four men to load onto a packhorse - tanned and mounted. Even after the head and legs were removed from the hide, it remained large enough to cover a double bed. The skull of the great bear was sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., where in 1918 a scientist assigned sub-species status to the bruin. An effort was made by Evans and his congressman to have the skull returned on loan to Texas in 1935. Evans wanted to display the skull as part of the Texas Centennial celebration. The Smithsonian officials declined the request. They felt the specimen was too rare to be displayed outside of the Washington D.C. museum.

Today, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department confirms that black bears have rebounded quite nicely in the Big Bend area since the peak of the bear hunting days of the late 1800s and early 1900s; however, no one has seen a grizzly there – or anywhere else in Texas – since Victorian times. Hopes that a grizzly had returned to the region were raised when unusually large bear tracks were found in the Guadalupe Mountains in 1931; however, no one ever saw the bruin responsible.

When reading of the demise of the only grizzly known to have ever stalked Texas soil, I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy. Joe Evans did not seem to feel the same way. He wrote in his book, “The killing of this grizzly was the climax of all our hunting experiences in the Davis Mountains.” No doubt, this quote will rub many the wrong way today, but try not to be too hard on Joe Davis and his hunting friends. It was a very different time.


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Sounds roundoakie.

Smithsonian still has the skull- pics, please.


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Originally Posted by las
Sounds roundoakie.

Smithsonian still has the skull- pics, please.

Pic of the skull in the article, as well as one of it's claws with a scrimshaw Masonic symbol.


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The last grizz in Siskiyou County Calif was killed in the spring of 1890, very close to the town of Hornbrook on I-5. Old Reelfoot, as he was known had chalked up a score of 500 cattle by then, and the ranchers had upped the bounty to the incredible sum of 2,700 dollars. Two hunters by name of Bean and Wright did the deed and got the reward. Bean and Wright sold the carcass, a taxidermist did a terrible job of stuffing the bear, loaded it in a big ore wagon and hauled it around the area...gawkers were charged a dime, and the taxidermist would pull off the tarp for their viewing pleasure. At the time they did not weigh the carcass, but some ranchers "string weighed" it and figured it 1500 to 1800 pounds. As a schoolkid we went to the county museum, and the claws from the foot damaged in a steel trap a few years earlier, were the size of a small hay hook...or so I recall...grin.


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Hornbrook seems like the perfect place for the last California Grizz to go to die. LOL


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I think salmonella has a bear skull from his family history .... something about finding it digging a foundation or something? Can't remember the thread to be exact but it was a cool story.

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Originally Posted by Higginez
Hornbrook seems like the perfect place for the last California Grizz to go to die. LOL
Wait...it gets better, in 2010, one of those websites that examine crime patterns put Hornbrook as the zip code of the highest percentage number of felons on parole in Calif. And you thought Oroville was badass.


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Originally Posted by flintlocke
Originally Posted by Higginez
Hornbrook seems like the perfect place for the last California Grizz to go to die. LOL
Wait...it gets better, in 2010, one of those websites that examine crime patterns put Hornbrook as the zip code of the highest percentage number of felons on parole in Calif. And you thought Oroville was badass.

LOL

I'd have guessed it at Happy Camp...


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Jeezus man give me a break...LOL. I heard the Tribal cops quit and the Tribal council is going to contract it out.


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Headed through Hoopa in a few weeks! LOL

Wish me luck!


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Originally Posted by gonehuntin
Originally Posted by las
Sounds roundoakie.

Smithsonian still has the skull- pics, please.

Pic of the skull in the article, as well as one of it's claws with a scrimshaw Masonic symbol.

Thanks, I'll go back and find it. (Did- I'll have to try to find a better pic and some measurements).

I read years ago that the CA bears were able to grow to such large size- rivaling Kodiak bears - for the same reason. Abundant food supplies. Salmon, lush vegetation, mild climates (relatively speaking for Alaska). In CA it was the spanish cattle, most of which culling was done for many decades for their hides only, the carcasses left for scavengers. And of course, a big bear has no trouble taking down cattle or moose, and in CA, cattle were likely far more numerous than moose in Alaska. Easy living...


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Great story, great research.....thank you.

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I think they should reintroduce Grizzlies to California.

To get them established we should give them all the Grizzlies in Montana.


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Originally Posted by akasparky
I think they should reintroduce Grizzlies to California.

To get them established we should give them all the Grizzlies in Montana.

I think they should wait on this till the dipsh I ts in the California capital get guns banned then the bears could clean up the biped over population there...mb


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Originally Posted by Higginez
Headed through Hoopa in a few weeks! LOL

Wish me luck!

Don't stop.


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Originally Posted by hardway
I think salmonella has a bear skull from his family history .... something about finding it digging a foundation or something? Can't remember the thread to be exact but it was a cool story.

Indeed.
It it's an amazing find that was documented by the California Academy of Sciences as a genuine California Grizzly Bear and a very large male to boot.

This photo goes back a few years.

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]


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Wow. You were pretty young there Sal…….

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Now, for a movement/foundation to be created that would work tirelessly toward the reintroduction of grizzly bears back to California.

Something like the RMEF.

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Interesting stuff.

Last grizzly in Arizona was killed in 1936. It was killed on Escudilla mountain by a set gun placed in a cow carcass. There are stories of grizzlies seen in the area after that.

There is even a newspaper article on a grizzly killed in Sycamore canyon in 1949. Have no idea if it is true or not. Sounds a bit suspicious.

https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=MT19491101.2.64&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN--------

The above story will certainly be used by this group:

In 2022 the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in Montana’s U.S. District Court accusing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to update the federal recovery plan for grizzly bears, which was last revised in 1993. The center says: "Mogollon Rim and Gila Wilderness complex spanning Arizona and New Mexico and the Grand Canyon area have been identified as good grizzly bear habitat"

They are trying the same approach with reintroduction of jaguars. IMO they are claiming the grizzly and jaguar have occupied regions of the state in the past that never had had grizzlies or jaguars.



We could delve into the history of jaguars in Az but that would have to be another thread.


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