Are There Bears In California? Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Are There Bears In California?
Are There Bears In California? Everything You Need To Know

California is home to amazing national and state parks, it offers its visitors the opportunity to spot extraordinary wildlife. But, you may wonder, if California is home to bears?

Bears are a constant symbol of the Californian wild forests, that roam across almost every forested area of the continent.

And In this article, I’ve explained Are There Bears In California?. I’ve also explained the different types of bears like grizzly bears, black bears, etc.

Are There Bears In California?

California’s bear population has grown in the last 30 years and is home to three bear species namely black bears, grizzly bears and polar bears. 

Black Bears: The Black bears roam across every wooded area of the state. They are the smallest and the most widespread among the three bear species in California. They come in various colours, from solid black to different shades of brown. A few might even have patches of colour, like a white blaze on the chest or lighter-coloured muzzles. 

The black bears have two subspecies in California, known as the Olympic black bear (Ursus americana altifrontalis) and the California black bear (Ursus americana californiensis). They are geographically differentiated by the ridge of the Klamath Mountains.

Brown Bears: Many claim to have seen a grizzly bear (brown bear), however, they became extinct by the 1920s due to hunting and habitat loss and only one on the state flag remains. These bears are huge and more aggressive when compared to black bears. They are omnivores and prey on larger mammals like moose or elk.

Polar Bears: Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) can be found at the San Diego Zoo, which is designed to represent the Arctic tundra habitat of polar bears. 

How Many Bears In California?

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) states that currently there might be about 25,000 to 30,000 black bears. They are divided into three different subpopulations.

A vast majority of them can be seen in the northern state, which is most the Sierra Nevada population and the North Coast/Cascade population. 

In the south, the Central Western/Southwestern population runs from Monterey County to Riverside County. The Los Padres National Forest constitutes about 10% of the total bear population in California.

In recent days the population of black bears in California has been growing, due to the successful conservation measures and habitat rehabilitation. However, the number of grizzly bears (brown bears) is nil in California as they became extinct in the state in the early 1920s due to habitat loss and hunting.

How Common Are Bear In California?

Are There Bears In California?
Are There Bears In California? Everything You Need To Know

Bears are fairly very common in California, especially black bears. They can be seen in multiple areas of the state, including mountains, forests, and a few urban areas.

However, bear sightings are not very common and real encounters with bears are fairly rare. Most bears in California avoid humans, but they might be more aggressive when they sense danger or if become habituated to human food. 

Where Are Bears Common In California?

Bears are found in many areas of California, but they are most commonly found in the mountainous regions of the state, particularly in the Sierra Nevada range and Los Padres National Forest. They can also be found in other mountain ranges throughout the state, as well as in some coastal areas.

Some of the most popular areas for bear sightings in California include Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Lake Tahoe. Bears can also be found in other parks and wilderness areas throughout the state, as well as in some urban areas.

Also Check Out Our Guide On Bears In Colorado

Are There Brown Bears In California?

No, brown bears, (grizzly bears), were once found throughout the state of California, however, they are currently regarded to be extinct. The last California brown bear was known to be hunted down in the early 20th century.

Does Los Angeles Have Bears?

Though bears are quite uncommon in Southern California, the national forests around the city of Los Angeles like the San Gabriel Mountains and the Santa Monica Mountains do have inhabitants of about a few hundred bears.

Are There Bears In Southern California?

Yes, there are bears in Southern California, particularly in the mountainous regions of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Santa Ana Mountains, and the San Bernardino Mountains and occasionally in the suburban neighbourhoods.

How Many Bear Attacks In California?

Since 1986, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has said that there has been no deadly bear attacks in the state of California. Also, the National Park Service has stated that the possibility of being struck by a bear is only 0.02% which is 1 in 2.1 million.

When Was The Last Bear Killed In California?

The last known California grizzly is said to be shot in Fresno County in the year 1922. However, in the year 1924, the last California grizzly bear was spotted a few times in Sequoia National Park and never seen again. 

Also Check Our Guide On Bears In US


Bears are strong creatures that can harm humans when they are provoked. However, black bears found in California are not aggressive and tend to stay away from humans.

Though the populations of bears have increased in California over the years and with more increase in habitat and national parks. 

I hope this article answered all your question. Thank You For Reading!

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