In 1930, Montana school children declared the grizzly bear their choice for state animal. The majestic elk took second place.
The grizzly bear also represents California, but there are no more grizzlies there. In fact, Montana’s Glacier National Park is one of the grizzly’s last strongholds in the U.S. south of Canada.
When Lewis and Clark made their epic trek across the continent, brown, or grizzly, bears ranged onto the Great Plains. The explorers had several epic encounters with grizzlies as they followed the Missouri River across the Dakotas into Montana.
At first, the explorers were confident that their guns could easily handle any bear that came their way. However, a series of close calls left them shaken. At one point, an exasperated Meriwether Lewis wrote in this journal,
“This bear being so hard to die reather intimedates us all; I must confess that I do not like the gentlemen and had reather fight two Indians than one bear.”
Today, Montanans should give thanks that their state is still wild and unspoiled enough to support grizzlies.
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