Thursday, September 28, 2006
The grizzly, Ursus arctos horribilis, was officially extirpated from the state of Colorado in the 1950s. A few years ago, I wrote a paper for the Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Science arguing that sighting reports indicated a few bears were hanging on in the southwestern quarter of the state, though I didn't think a viable population was indicated. Now a sighting by hunters near Independence Pass, concerning a female with two cubs, has been considered credible enough by the Division of Wildlife that a helicopter was sent to conduct a search. SO far, no supporting evidence has been collected, but the story could have major implications for other "extinct" or unconfirmed animals. If it turns out we missed 800-lb predators in Colorado, what else might be out there... ?