California Grizzly: Acknowledgments

The Lost Icon of Home


Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
Downtown Mountain View
Box Office & General Information 650.903.6000 | MVCPA.COM

California Grizzly Exhibition on display October 23 – December 10.


Purchases can be made online here, or through the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Office Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6 pm
Box Office Sales 650.903.6000 | MVCPA.COM


Thank you to Ariana (@arianakamprad) for helping design the exhibition’s title card and California bear flag motif artwork!

Works Cited

  1. Alagona, P. S. (2013). After the grizzly: Endangered species and the politics of place in California. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  2. Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. California State (USA) Flag Color Scheme. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  4. Chapin, R. (1971). The grizzly bear in the land of the Ohlone Indians. Local History Studies, California History Center.
  5. Cunningham, L. (2015). State of change: Forgotten landscapes of california. Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books.
  6. Grizzly Bear History. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  7. Hayes, D. (2007). Historical atlas of California: With original maps. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  8. Herrero, S. (2002). Bear attacks: Their causes and avoidance. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press.
  9. History of the IGBST. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  10. Hittell, T. H. (1911). The adventures of James Capen Adams: Mountaineer and grizzly bear hunter of California. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  11. Leonard, R. (1966). Arctos the grizzly. Sacramento: California State Department of Education.
  12. Leopold, A. (1933). Game management. New York: C. Scribners Sons.
  13. Leopold, A., Brooks, A., & Jahn, L. R. (1986). Game management. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
  14. Leopold, A. (1987). A Sand County almanac, and sketches here and there: With other essays on conservation from Round River. New York: Oxford University Press.
  15. Leviton, A. E. (1979). San Francisco Bay: The urbanized estuary: Investigations into the Natural History of San Francisco Bay and Delta with reference to the influence of man. San Francisco, CA: The Division.
  16. Lopez, B. (1986). Arctic dreams: Imagination and desire in Northern landscape. New York: Scribner.
  17. McCracken, H. (1955). The Beast that walks like Man: The Story of the Grizzly Bear. Lanham, MD: Hanover House.
  18. Resources about Salmon and Other Anadromous Fish -. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  19. Simpson, S. (2013). Dominion of bears: Living with wildlife in Alaska. Lawrence (Kansas): University Press of Kansas.
  20. Snyder, S. (2003). Bear in mind: The California grizzly. Berkeley, CA: The Bancroft Library, Univ. of Calif.
  21. Storer, T. I., & Tevis, L. P. (1955). California grizzly. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

California Grizzly: Lost Icon

California Grizzly: Lost Icon

The bear is gone, but an echo still exists.

Ursus arctos californicus.

On our state flag. On the sports fields of our schools and universities. On the labels of our beer and wine bottles. This exhibition explores that echo in the form of grizzly bears from afar. The California grizzly shared many characteristics with its still surviving cousins in North America. The images depicted in this exhibition are taken from that ursine stock, prominently featured is the Alaskan brown bear, which the California Grizzly was especially akin.

The Grizzly, emblem of California, was once numerous and dominant, is no more, and unable to tell its own story. This collection of natural history photos attempts to explore how this iconic beast would fit into the scenes of the San Francisco Bay area.


To explore the lost icon of California and how it relates to us today. Does it even matter? And should you even care that the icon emblazoned across California’s finest institutions is gone forever? Exterminated, extirpated, made extinct by the modern California man.

Range of Ursus arctos: Former and Present

Photo Locations

Brooks River, Alaska, Katmai National Park
Margot Creek, Alaska, Katmai National Park
Naknek Lake, Alaska, Katmai National Park
MikFik Creek, Alaska
McNeil River, Alaska
Denali National Park, Alaska
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Glacier National Park, Montana

Not a California Grizzly
B1: An average of 6 men are killed yearly in California by grizzly bears, many more injured. “Almost all of these hurt or killed by a grizzly was trying to hunt it and enraged the beast by stinging it with a bullet.” – JS Hittel, 1863 
B2: “If you play with a bear, you must take the bear’s play.” A common saying in old California; and appreciated in full by those who tussled with California grizzlies.
B3: A group of 10 Spanish Californians, with a relay of horses, “lassoed and killed forty bears in one night” at the cattle slaughtering ground near the town of Mountain View.
B4: Bear and bull fights were held all-over early California, including San Jose. San Francisco sponsored this event until the 1860s. Monterey’s last official Bear and Bull fight was in 1881.

B5: Our home, the community of Mountain View and surrounding areas, was teeming with grizzly bears in former times.

F1A: The grizzlies of California probably resembled their counterparts elsewhere in North America, given some similarities in food resources and the landscape in the coastal areas of Alaska and British Columbia.
F1B: Bear traps, made of redwood, were still visible as recent as 1952, in the Santa Lucia mountains of Monterey County. Perhaps to this day there still exists physical evidence in these hills of the California grizzly?
F1C: The largest stock of information about the California Grizzly come from hunting narratives. Accounts of “How I killed the bear” in 1800s California are as verbose as they are today, when describing similar episodes in other regions.
F1D: “Youth yet unborn will pole up the Missouri with Lewis and Clark, or climb the Sierras with James Capen “Grizzly” Adams, and each generation in turn will ask: Where is the big white bear?”
F2A: 1924- When the last grizzly sighted in California was shot in Sequoia National Park. Less than 100 years ago and within the span of a human’s lifetime.
F2B: The grizzly is exceptionally agile with its paws. It can strike like a sledgehammer, and move boulders. It boxes with lightning-like rapidity….or it feels an itch, it will daintily use but one claw to gently scratch.
F2C: Grizzlies regularly made a habit of cleaning up the beaches of the carrasses that washed ashore, making grizzlies the major beach sanitarians of early California.
F2D: Before the arrival of Europeans, it is estimated that California had 10,000 grizzlies living alongside 130,000 Natives, making for an interesting bear-to-man ratio.
F2E: The hills surrounding Mountain View once provided the shelter needed by mother bears for their dens. There is a cave near Skunk Hollow, Santa Clara county that served as the maternity den for countless grizzly moms and their cubs.
F3A: In 1857, Grizzly Adams built a grizzly trap northwest of Crystal Springs and captured bear cubs he used in his San Francisco menagerie.
F3B: In Sept 1861, on Black Mountain in Santa Clara county, the state botanist reported seeing an abundance of grizzly tracks navigating through the chaparral.
F3C: In March 1776, the Anza expedition was making its way north up the SF peninsula and in the hills west of Millbrae and he saw many bears.
F3D: California’s state grass “Purple Needlegrass” was referred to as “beargrass” in the 1800s, perhaps because it was eaten by bears in spring, as sedges are today in Alaska coast regions.
F3E: The grizzly was a paradox. Attacked in the wild by man it was a deadly adversary, yet when left alone and with an abundant and consistent supply of food resources, it could be as docile as a sheep.
F3F: Starting in 1854, the salmon cannery industry grew rapidly in the Bay Area. In 1864 one cannery packed 2,000 48-lb cases of salmon, increasing to 200,000 cases by 1882. By 1916 all SF Bay commercial fishing operations had ceased

L1: Relegating grizzlies to Alaska is about like relegating happiness to heaven; one may never get there.
L2: In 1909 there were grizzlies in every major mountain mass, today only four states have any at all. There seems to be a tacit assumption that if grizzlies survive in Canada and Alaska, that is good enough. It is not good enough for me…
L3: In 1841, an observer noted that grizzlies were “an almost hourly sight” in the Sacramento Valley and that “it was not uncommon to see 30 or 40 a day”. Many other early observers recorded similarly remarkable descriptions of grizzly bear abundances.
L4: Only those able to see the pageant of evolution can be expected to value its theater, the wilderness, or its outstanding achievement, the grizzly.
L5: Aldo Leopold, through some of his writing, discusses ideas for why it matters the California Grizzly is gone. He promotes a nuanced thought process about appreciating your own backyard as much as you appreciate faraway, exotic locations.

O1: During 1850, a traveler en route between San Jose and Santa Cruz measured a bear track that was 14 by 8 inches in the chaparral. This print measures 14 by 11.
O2: The California Grizzly was a strong swimmer. In fact, in 1827 a boat near Angel Island in San Francisco Bay came upon one swimming that attempted to board the boat.
O3: In 1602 Father Ascension, Vizcaino expedition, was the first European to write about the California Grizzly. While in Monterey he saw California grizzlies, noting that they came to the shore at night to feed on the carcass of a whale that had washed up.
O4: Sometimes Mountain Lions would be taken in the live traps designed to catch grizzlies for the arena. When this happened a bear-and-lion fight would be arranged, as occurred in Castroville in 1865.

S1: The California Grizzly fished for river salmon…For instance, bears were said to come down at night to [Mountain View] streams, such as Steven’s Creek, when the salmon and steelhead ran.
S2: Spawning streams were already being destroyed as early as the Gold Rush days by hydraulic gold mining, railroad construction and lumbering operations. These activities left many streams badly silted or blocked by debris
S3: Grizzlies in coastal Alaska regularly fish the inlets for salmon, and those in California probably had similar ways. Bears were observed using their paws to fish along the coast in San Mateo County. 
S4: The livestock brought by white men proved a temporary boon to the bear population, and campaigns to exterminate the grizzlies sealed its eventual fate in 1924 of extinction in California.
S5: Aborigine and beast were competitors for the same kinds of food, a state of affairs that was bound to bring conflict at certain times of year.
Farewell and thanks. Please see for more information, print sales, and works cited.
Thank you to Ariana (@arianakamprad) for helping design the exhibition’s title card and California bear flag motif artwork!

Review: Canon 100-400mm II lens

I am extremely impressed with this lens. There is plenty of sharpness, and the IS and lightweight to make it a formidable handholding tool.  I started using it more and more over the last few weeks, mainly in response to getting the new 1DX2. As I acquainted myself with the new body, I wanted to use something reasonably sized.  Otherwise, I would look like a major creep walking around Mountain View parks while toting my big 600mm. I’m sure I still look like a creep either way.
Assuming 400mm is adequate for your needs, you cannot go wrong with it. As is true for many others, the first edition of this lens was my gateway into the super tele world. It was a workhorse that yielded  stunning results. Only when I began my “affair” with the 600mm II, did the honeymoon with the 100-400 end.
Over the last couple years I have been holding down a 3 body kit for wildlife: super tele; mid range zoom; ultra wide. I’d stick the 600mm on the 1DX, constantly swapping 1.4x TCs. The 70-200mm on the 1D4, occasionally with 1.4x TC. And my sidearm was 14mm/11-24mm on the 6D.  This had me covered well for most of the situations I put myself in, and there wasn’t any real demand for anything in that 350-500mm range. That all began to change after getting the 7D2.  This body immediately replaced the 1D4 in my kit for use with the midrange zoom. With the crop, a 70-200 became 320mm equivalent, and I was reminded of how useful those focal lengths were.
The 100-400II with 7D2 is a natural pairing, sacrificing the wide end, its 640mm equivalent reach was great. I found it too prohibitive with a 1.4x extender, locked to the center AF points at f/8. This is where the 1DX2 comes into the picture, as it has 61 AF pts at f/8.
As for how the 100-400 compares, I would argue it is quite similar to 70-200 in sharpness. Sometimes I think 100-400 is better, other times I am back to the 70-200. The IS is about the same as 70-200.  When using extenders on the 100-400, I have found that on the 1DX and 1DX2, I can easily use the 1.4x TC with minimal degradation. I do not use extenders with the 7D; I think the pixel density is to high.
As long as there is sufficient light, I am comfortable using the 1.4x on 100-400 at f/8.  In fact, it performs much better than I ever expected. To be honest, I didn’t have much faith it would, and it wasn’t the reason I bought. However, had I known it was this good, I would have bought the lens much sooner, and now I have to figure out how I wrangle it away from Jenna 😉

Arctic Blast

Day 2 of the 7 day Photo Challenge
Arctic Blast
Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
A red fox braces against the wind during a Manitoba blizzard. The high winds kicked up a lot of snow and decreased the visibility. To make this photo, I stopped down the lens to increase the depth of field, in case an errantsnowflake threw the autofocus off and waited for a lull in the gusts for a clear shot. The intensity of the winds can be observed by the horizontal streaks cutting across the frame. The fox’s bushy tail behaved more like a sail, and would catch the wind, altering its trajectory, making it move kind of sideways across the tundra. Note the beautiful lichens growing on the exposed part of the rock.
Canon EOS 1DX, Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM, handheld
1/200s; f/10; 600mm; ISO1600

On my second day I nominate Meril Darees ofMnmwow – Wildlife Photography. Meril is a world class wildlife photographer and one of my closest friends. I have spent thousands of hours shooting with him in the field: Churchill, Yellowstone, Canadian Rockies, California, Svalbard, and 5+ trips to Alaska. Over all these trips I have learned a lot from him, and significantly improved as a photographer. Please check out his work and give his page a like!

I was nominated by Barrett Hedges of BearHead Photography
Day 1- Jack Cunningham

Polar Hide and Polar Seek

7 Day Nature Photo Challenge: Day 1
My friend Barrett of BearHead Photography nominated me for the Nature Photo Challenge. Barrett is an incredible photographer, and intimately in tune with nature. His beautiful work reflects this perfectly. Thanks for the nomination! Let’s see if I am able to keep up with this….the goal is to post one photo for the next seven days, all while nominating a new person each day.

Polar Hide and Polar Seek
Spotting wildlife is never guaranteed. In fact, at times it feels like Mother Nature is actively advising her creatures to hide from me. But every now and then, she surprises you with a scene that goes beyond your wildest dreams. This was the case for these courting polar bears in the high arctic.

On the final full day of my 11 day Svalbard expedition, we sailed to a location not typically known for hosting polar bears. I was sad that, in all likelihood, I had already seen the trip’s last polar bear. But it had been a good trip for bears; with 20 or so sightings around the archipelago, and the weather on this day was great. The low angle polar sun provided perfect photographic conditions. Lots of light, blue sky, and puffy clouds. We manned the zodiacs with the goal of bird photography. I observed these two bears and the agenda quickly shifted….

In this scene, a large adult male bear is following an adult female. The sexual dimorphism between them is striking. But despite his substantial size advantage, the male behaved like a nervous teenager that lacks the courage to ask for a date. The female played it cool. Mostly ignoring him as she sniffed the beach, occasionally giving him a playful glance back. This ballet went on for over 2 hours. These bears had each other’s full attention; my zodiac and I weren’t given a passing glance. At one point the female slipped behind this lichen covered rock, as if to hide from her suitor. With the line of sight on his target temporarily obstructed, he froze in his tracks, and waited for her to reappear. I was able to capture this moment, complete with his reaction.

The famous polar bear warning signs posted in Svalbard have the Norwegian words: “Gjelder hele Svalbard” and the image of a polar bear. Which means “Polar Bears to be found all over Svalbard”. The sweetest words in the Norwegian language!

I was nominated by Barrett Hedges of BearHead, and will nominate my friend and fellow polar bear photographer Jack Cunningham. Jack and I met shooting brown bears in Alaska and have traveled to Churchill for polar bears. Check out his website here

Svalbard: Alkefjellet

A zodiac explores Alkefjellet in Svalbard. Look how small the human component is in the scheme of things.

Some of the most influential forces experienced by planet Earth are contained within the borders of this photo. To list a few: glacial ice, volcanic basalt, Carboniferous limestone, and human existence can all be observed in the scene. Each component has contributed significantly to day-to-day operations of our planet. Whether we are aware of it or not.

Volcanoes erupt rock and create new landscapes, and glaciers polish these new landscapes away. The cliff’s white limestone base indicates one of the more prolific periods in the geologic record; the Carboniferous. This is the period of when forests dominated the landscape, and extraordinary amounts of carbon were sequestered in limestone and coal fields. As such, the Carboniferous period also is responsible for much of the coal and fossil fuels used by industrial man. It is the release of this sequestered carbon that contributes to acceleration of climate change, and increasing the rate of retreat for the glacier depicted here.
Aug 21, 2015
#svalbard #glacier #zodiac #volcano

A zodiac is swallowed by the massive cliff off the northern coast of Spitsbergen.
A zodiac is swallowed by the massive cliff off the northern coast of Spitsbergen.

Eye to Eye: American Marten

I am proud to announce that I received Highly Honored in the Wildlife category of the 2015 Windland Smith Rice International Awards Photo Contest by Nature’s Best Photography. This photo of an American Marten is one that I am particularly proud of capturing; and to receive this distinction makes the experience even more special to me. On top of that, getting this news is a great way to celebrate my 32nd birthday!
Please read the description below for more details behind how this photo was created:
Eye to Eye: American Marten
Eye to Eye: American Marten
American Marten
Martes americana
Yellowstone National Park, USA

By Tim Auer
Mountain View, California, USA

The story:
Look closely into this marten’s eyes. If you look carefully, you can see the reflection of the forest scene before it.

A curious and playful species, the american marten is not an easy animal to photograph. It is small and fast with an ability to vanish as quickly as it appeared, and certainly won’t wait for you to switch to your telephoto lens. If a wildlife photographer wishes to capture this species in its natural habitat, s/he needs to be prepared upon encounter..

As is typical of special wildlife photos, this image is the result of preparation, and a bit of luck. While snowmobiling through Yellowstone, I stopped for a break near the Swan Lake Flat. Fortunately, my camera setup was optimal for such an encounter: 600mm F/4 +1.4x Extender, giving 840mm focal length. I had driven the snowmobile with this camera+lens on my lap all day, which, given the size of this kit, is no easy task to do while handling a snowmobile. But having it immediately available during the few brief seconds the marten was in sight made this shot possible. The marten bounded with ease on top of the 4 ft/1.5m deep powder snow, and appeared to play peek­a­boo from behind trees, while I post­holed clumsily behind it, keeping the lens barrel above my head to keep snow out. It was not easy to get into shooting position with such deep snow, in fact it was exhausting. But as I crouched deep in the snow, at eye level with the marten while flakes of powder snow fell softly, I clicked this sharp result.

The American Marten is classified as a furbearer by most of the state wildlife agencies in its distribution, but fortunately, several of the states it calls home do not have a trapping season for it. Still its presence is an important indicator of the overall health of its forest ecosystem. It requires a rather large home range for a mammal of its size, and its home range has been shown to vary as a function of prey abundance (Thompson and Colgan 1987) and habitat type (Soutiere 1979). In clearcut areas it requires 63% more area than it does in uncut or sustainably harvested forest land.

Outside of those in the fur trade, not many people are familiar with this member of the weasel family. In fact, many people, when they see this photo, have confused it with a baby fox. I hope by showing this snow-moustached portrait of the American Marten in gentle natural lighting, people will begin to recognize the species in a new light.

Soutiere, E.C. 1979. Effects of timber harvesting on marten in Maine. J. Wildl. Manage. 43:850-860.

Thompson, I.D. and P.W. Colgan. 1987. Numerical responses of martens to a food shortage in northcentral Ontario. J. Wildl. Manage. 51:824-835.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM, Canon Extender EF1.4× III

1/160s; f/5.6; 840mm; ISO200
Post Processing done using Lightroom 5.7.1
Feb. 8 2014

Svalbard: Lilliehook Glacier

The first morning out….August 20, 2015, Svalbard.

After a rough night sailing through stormy arctic seas (motion sickness medicine was a lifesaver).  The ship, Sea Spirit, made its way through the Krossfjord and King’s Bay, finally entering Lilliehöökfjorden. We dropped anchor and manned the zodiacs to explore the Lilliehöök Glacier. We faced a horseshoe shaped wall of ice. 7 km across, 80m tall, and stretching to the horizon with jagged peaks poking through the ice and clouds.  

Arctic, beluga, birds, glacier, ice, icebergs, Krossfjord, lilliehook, Spitsbergen, svalbard, whales, wildlife
Lilliehook Fjord, massive glacier bay with mountains poking into the clouds, and ice stretching as far as the eye can see.

The only place ice didn’t meet the sea was where a mountain stood instead. In-between these mountains, glaciers spilled out into the fjord.  At least 14 glaciers!  This was the biggest glacier bay I had ever been in.  Of course, this “accomplishment” would soon be “defeated” by other, more massive fjords of Svalbard, it doesn’t detract from the impression this fjord made on me.

The green-blue water was silky smooth and looked thick with glacial silt.  The underwater housing was working, but the  “thickness” of the glacial water limited visibility. Nonetheless, I practiced using this new piece of equipment.  Afterall, this was my first time doing underwater photography in the field!  A bearded seal swam lazily around the smooth water, coming close to a zodiac that I was not in.  Shortly after spotting the seal, a pod of beluga whales surfaced for a few minutes, before diving deep and moving on. 

In terms of photography, the stop in Lilliehöök provided a gentle warm up session to get into that “photo-mindset”. Not all the zodiac expeditions would be nearly as smooth and easy.  In fact, many times the arctic sea conditions were not conducive to producing interesting photography, that is, unless the photographer was adequately prepared and exercised sound judgement in the field….For me the learning process never ends. and the conditions I experienced in Svalbard forced me to re-evaluate and adjust some of my preparations.