California residents are accustomed to seeing the grizzly bear on the state flag, but the iconic species may soon be returning to nearby forests as well.
The Los Angeles Timesreports that the grizzly could return to the Bear Republic in a few years if a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity is approved. The petition requests that 110,000 square miles be set aside for grizzlies in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
Hunted to the brink of extinction in the continental U.S. and listed as endangered in 1975, grizzlies largely reside in the northern Rocky Mountain states of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been considering removing the grizzly from the Endangered Species List in the Yellowstone area, given that an estimated 700 grizzlies now share 3,400 square miles.
If the California reintroduction plan is implemented, 300 to 400 bears would take up residence in the southern Sierras across an area of 6,000 and 8,000 square miles. Critics of the plan say there just isn’t enough space in the densely-populated state.
Read more: LA Times