Alta California



Grizzly Bears fighting Wild Bulls? Yup—right here in California and really not that long ago.

The Spanish brought many things with them when they colonized California, including the tradition of bull-fights. These new settlers herded cattle with them, letting their cows and bulls graze freely over unfenced land. The cattle were primarily used for their hide and tallow, which became cornerstones of Alta California’s colonial economy. But the bulls weren’t the only huge and potentially vicious mammal around; when they arrived in California, the newcomers became fascinated with the grizzly bear.

The Californios, as the Californians of Spanish descent[1] were called, were legendarily skilled with the horse and lasso (‘reata’ in Spanish). Several horsemen would ride out to capture a grizzly bear with their reatas and bring the captured animal back to the town where the fight was to be held. (read more)