The grizzly bear is North America's most fearsome predator. Grizzlies once thrived in Western Colorado before white settlers and trappers arrived. By the late 19th century the bears were terrorizing rancher's livestock and threatening to impede civilized progress. A government-funded program was initiated to exterminate the perceived nuisance. After a massive assault, the last grizzly in Colorado was snared and killed by a federal trapper in 1952.
Ursus arctos horribilis was assumed to no longer inhabit the state. Then, in the fall of 1979, a lone grizzly attacked a hunting guide near Pagosa Springs. The controversial account of what happened ends with the bear being killed in self-defense. Some people believe a tiny sleuth of grizzlies still inhabit a remote pocket of the South San Juan Wilderness. David Peterson, area resident and author of "Ghost Grizzlies" laments they are probably gone:
"If there are any grizzly bears left in Colorado, I hope nobody finds them. Just let them live what's left of their lives in peace."