The California Grizzly Bear

In 1919, Enos A. Mills listed fifteen species of North American grizzly bear with eighty-six sub-species, of which seven were California natives. The Monterey Peninsular grizzly bore the name californicus Merriam.

Mills wrote of the extinction of the California grizzly: "During the past twenty-five years the grizzly population has enormously decreased. The grizzly is in danger of extermination. In California, where he was once numerous, he is now extinct."

With the advent of DNA analysis we are better equipped to more accurately classify these animals. Grizzly bears are a sub-species of Brown Bear, Ursus arctus. But the grizzly bears of Alaska, Northern and Western Canada, and the northwestern United States, Ursus arctos horribilis, are a separate sub-species from the California grizzly, Ursus arctos californicus.

The term "grizzly" refers to the grayish, silver, or golden color of the tips of its fur.

"The Grizzly"
From The Trapper's Guide by Sewell Newhouse
Larger than a Grizzly Bear, which can weigh up to 800 pounds, the California Grizzly could exceed 2000 pounds in weight.

1850: Missionary William Taylor: "For a couple of miles back as I came through a dense chaperel [sic] thicket, I have been on the track of a grizzly bear. His track by measurement was fourteen inches long and seven wide; he must have been a monster."


Class – Mammalia
Order – Carnivora
Family – Ursidae
[Sub Family – Ursinae]
Genus – Ursus
Species – Ursus arctus, Brown Bear
Sub-Species – Ursus arctos califorinicus, California Golden Bear


  1. I did not know that there is such a sub-species as the Grizzly Bear that falls within the Black Bear species. What really confounds me is that these Grizzly Bears were still here in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 2017!

  2. Hi. No the grizzly is not a black bear but a brown bear, and the California Grizzly is extinct.