Sometimes the Bear Eats You: Grizzly Bears in the Bay Area

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Cartoon: a huge grizzly bear holding a man by his leg. Text reads, "Bay Area grizzly bear attacks! From Antioch to the San Mateo Coast to the Russian River, grizzly attacks were once part of living here."

As you may have gathered from our state flag, grizzly bears used to roam the hills, meadows and beaches of California.

Not only did they roam, they occasionally killed and sometimes ate things slightly outside of their usual dietary regimen.

There are historical accounts of people being killed by grizzlies around the Bay Area, from Antioch to the Russian River.

The last documented case of a human killed by a grizzly around these parts was in 1875 — a good, little piece of trivia to remember the next time you drive Highway 1 between San Francisco and Santa Cruz.


Along the way you'll pass Waddell Beach, which is named after William Waddell, who built a wharf and a sawmill that, according to the National Park Service, cranked out 2 million board-feet of lumber a year.

Besides greatly reducing the number of old growth redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Waddell was also the last person around here to be killed by a grizzly.

Unfortunately, the beautiful (if sometimes deadly) bears were well on their way to getting wiped out by settlers by the time Waddell perished.

And long before any documented cases of grizzly bear attacks on white settlers, native people around the Bay were living among the grizzlies for thousands of years.