Grizzly Bears are Migrants to the Lower 48

Grizzly Bears are Migrants to the Lower 48 iStock-1281962973

U.S.A.-(– When incidents of defense against bears occur in the United States, a common position of bear apologists is to claim “bears were here first”, as if, somehow, a bear has moral authority over humans.

A group that promotes the expansion of grizzly bear populations makes this claim, in a more sophisticated way.  From

Grizzly bears have coexisted with people in the North Cascades Ecosystem from when the first people arrived in North America.

The most dangerous bear, the grizzly bear, was not in the lower 48 states before humans were. Humans were here first.

The grizzly bear is a relative newcomer to most of North America. The bears came from Asia to Alaska about 60,000 years ago. Because of the glaciers over most of Canada, they did not make it to the lower 48 states until about 10 – 15 thousand years ago. From

In North America, the brown bear has had a limited history, appearing in eastern Beringia only 50–70,000 years ago and spreading into the contiguous United States about 13,000 years ago (7, 8).

Humans, we have learned, have been in North America for at least 23,000 years, and likely up to 32,000 years. A convincing article was published on October 1,  2021. From

How long have humans been living in the Tularosa Basin? The latest research from White Sands confirms for the first time that humans have been living in North America for at least 23,000 years – many thousands of years older than previously thought. This research also confirms that people were living with the ice age megafauna much longer than previously known.

Another article was published in July of 2020.  From

The latest discoveries, published on 22 July in Nature1,
question that consensus. Since 2012, a team led by Ciprian Ardelean at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas in Mexico has been excavating Chiquihuite Cave, which is 2,740 metres above sea level in the country’s Astillero Mountains. The researchers found almost 2,000 stone tools, 239 of which were embedded in layers of gravel that have been carbon dated to between 25,000 and 32,000 years old.

No grizzly bear fossils have been found in the lower 48 states older than 15,500 years. Most are younger.  One fossil from near Edmonton, Canada, has been dated from about 26,000 years ago. The science of that fossil appears to be fairly good. But it is only one example, and it was found near Edmonton, not in the lower 48 states.

Black bears inhabited North America long before grizzly bears became relatively recent migrants. Black bears are far less dangerous to humans. No doubt the introduction of grizzly bears had an impact on the ecosystem about 15 – 16 thousand years ago. Before that, much of the continent was covered with hundreds or thousands of feet of ice.  Ecosystems are constantly changing and adapting. They are far from static.

Grizzly bears contended with humans and wolves for the spot of top predator in North American ecosystems for thousands of years. When human immigrants came from Europe, they brought the technology of firearms and steel to North America. Grizzly bears and wolves learned their place as one spot down from the top predator. Humans solidified their spot as the top predator and dominant creatures.

Bear advocates who claim bears have some sort of moral authority over humans are advancing the latest version of pagan animal cults. It is not hard to understand how people can become emotionally entangled with powerful wild creatures, especially when their interactions are based on digital visions on various screens.

If we are to preserve bears for future generations, they must be managed, as with other renewable resources. There needs to be a clear-eyed understanding of their reality. They are not forest and plain representatives of Gaia, the earth goddess. They are flesh and blood creatures who routinely engage in the killing of other bears and in cannibalism.

Only humans can manage bear populations. Man has to determine how many bears are the optimum number.

The people who have to live with the bears should have a significant say in how many is the right number, and what the rules will be to keep those bear populations at the right number.

If urban dwellers wish to expand the range of grizzly bears onto areas owned by other humans, the people who value the bears most should pay for the damage done by the bears.

Just because grizzly bears lived somewhere at some time in the past, does not mean it makes sense for them to live there today.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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Honestly, I don’t get the point. Bears, including griz, like all animals came from somewhere. They were here when ancestral man moved here from somewhere. Some of the animals are no longer here and may have been extirpated and/or extinct due to hunting by our ancestors, e.g. mammoths, horses, camels, saber tooth tigers, sloths, and etc. Personally, I think this world is a much more interesting and richer place to live with lions, tigers, bears (oh my), elephants, rhinoceros, crocodiles, and etc. I spent most of my life working or recreating in griz country (including a couple years specifically mapping… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by OlTrailDog
The Crimson Pirate

The whole point of the article is that griz were not here when ancestral man moved here. Also, prior to humans 99% of all living things eventually went extinct. Extinction is the norm. We are not responsible for the vast majority of it. Having said that I believe we do have an obligation to be good stewards of this planet. I also think we have done a lot better job of that than we often get credit for. The idea that we have not is driving a lot of bad decisions based on bad information that will ultimately cause more… Read more »


Long term Carbon dating is a theoretical tool at best because there is no way that data has been collected over 20K years that would verify the accuracy of the data. But I will forego that argument and assume it has some value. Still the people were here 25K and griz 26K (the 32K for man is speculative as noted in the article). So we possibly arrived close to the same time frame. But who really gives a fig about that anyway. We both are here and have been here together for a long period of time. As stewards and… Read more »


Critters will spend their range until they meet a barrier or a meaner critter. Look how coyotes are now found throughout the lower 48.


Thanks to Deans articles about bears I’ve learned more about these creatures than I ever thought possible. Keep them coming.

Matt in Oklahoma

“Black bears are far less dangerous to humans.” I disagree. Look hard at the attack numbers because they are way higher than grizzly annually. There’s a lot of available data on the net and even Yellowstone Park keeps some data. I ain’t gonna say grizzly won’t show up down here cause mountain lions came back but they won’t last long if they do. Our tolerance is too low for that type of free ranging predator and no law is going to protect them. Black bear has made a substantial comeback since I was a kid. So much so that we… Read more »


Agreed. I’m pretty sure the reason the Black Bear population growing in large numbers has to do with the fact they aren’t as ornery as a Grizzly Bear. If they were, you’d see more Bear skin rugs in rancher and dairymen’s dens. Where I live the woods are full of Black Bears. Actually not only the woods, they are in the exurbs and suburban area of my town. We have several times a year right before and after hibernation the Black Bear venture into town to feast upon the residents trash cans and bird feeders. So much so, the garbage… Read more »


Would it not be fair for every time a predator is planted in the woods, another is put in a city park?


In my state they are putting very dangerous predators into the city parks, green spaces, and even in the State Capital Olympia they are found in the little grass areas between the road and sidewalks …drug vagrant “campers.”


there are places in miami where the vagrants have taken over, miami beach too but they dont like it out in the country , you would think with some of the abandon houses they would be better off here but that takes work grow your own food kill a pig now and then


Especially Washington D.C.!


It is an interesting testimony that, since humans did happen to dwell below Canada’s border before grizzlies arrived, grizzly bears historically never had a right to come down and live in the same area. Perhaps the same case can be made against starlings, barley, and dachshunds. In any event, it is a fun way to look at things. It probably doesn’t lead entirely well to the conclusion that grizzly bears need to be managed and possibly expelled, while black bears don’t. Under the law for humans, we might consider that, in around 15,000 years, grizzly bears have established some pretty… Read more »

Wild Bill

That is good!


Our ancestors eliminated G Bears from the lower 48 because they make lousy neighbors. That fact has not changed. Buying into this sort of “tolerance” and “diversity” will get you eaten eventually.

The Crimson Pirate

“Thank goodness for the outdoors, the tried and true proving ground for Murphy’s Law, where folks who think that all they need is a positive attitude are often the first ones to be eaten by wolves.” -Kevin App, American Angler magazine May/June 2016


There is not a bear living in my woods longer then I have.

So the bears are the real trespassers.


Seems like some people are just looking for an excuse just to attempt to kill a grizz. And by the way there are bears much bigger and meaner than a grizzly like a brown, much bigger than a grizzly. I have lived in Alaska for most of my life and I have had many run ins with bears of all types and the black bears were the worst of them, highly aggressive, but so am I and I didn’t have a gun on me most of times these run ins happen. FEAR is all I’m reading from most of you!… Read more »


Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…..Except for bears; bears WILL kill you!


So all the bear attacks weren’t justified shootings ?