Feds Lay Out Possible Plans for Bringing Grizzlies Back to Washington

Feds Lay Out Possible Plans for Bringing Grizzlies Back to Washington

Four alternatives to bring at least 200 self-sustained grizzlies in the North Cascades.

Only one person has seen a grizzly bear in the 9,600 square miles of Washington’s North Cascades in the last 20 years.

In fact, biologists estimate that only 10 of these brown bears wander around in this rugged mountain range—compared to about 800 in Montana and 600 in the Yellowstone-Teton area.

The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been investigating how to restore the grizzlies’ population in the North Cascades since the late ’90s, and are now one step closer to making that happen.

On Thursday, the partnership made available the Draft Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan / Environmental Impact Statement (draft plan/EIS) for the North Cascades Ecosystem, which includes four alternatives to bring at least 200 self-sustained grizzlies in the mountain range. The draft assesses the potential environmental impact of this proposal and will help make some decisions in the future once it’s examined in public meetings.

“Historically, grizzly bears were part of the North Cascades’ ecosystem, and to restore them would benefit the ecosystem as a whole,” Ann Froschauer, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said. “An ecosystem that is capable of supporting a large population of grizzlies is also capable to support large populations of plants and other animals.”

See also:

Fear, Loathing, and Grizzly Bears in the Northern Cascades

Fishers, Grizzlies, and the ‘Reverse Apocalypse’ of Washington’s Wildlife

The initiative has received economic support from institutions like the Woodland Park Zoo, Defenders of Wildlife, and the National Wildlife Federation and the support from the community as well.

The services report that Washington residents have supported the process in recent polls and that local Native American leaders believe that this species is important for their cultures and ceremonies.

“It’s inspiring all the support that the restoration of these bears has received,” Conservation Northwest’s Chase Gunnell said. “It’s great to see that people recognize the value of the grizzly bear to keep a healthy ecosystem in the North Cascades and I also think it’s our responsibility to restore them. They didn’t go extinct, we killed them off so we need to do what we can do to bring them back.”

Some people, however, have expressed their concerns about the initiative, especially regarding potential bear attacks. However, in this decade, only 11 fatal incidents related to grizzlies have been reported in North America (U.S., Canada and Mexico) with seven of them happening in the Northern Rockies region.

But statistics are meaningless when facing a grizzly so, of course, hikers should take some measures to prevent bear attacks. Froschauer shared tips well known to people who have spent time in griz country.

“Always hike in groups, make noise, clean your area if you’re camping out,” Froschauer said. “And for people living close to bears, it’s important not to leave trash or dog food outdoors.”

The 60-day public comment period for the draft EIS will include eight public meetings held around the North Cascades region and two webinars.

The document is available for public review and comment through March 14, 2017 by clicking here.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Photo of promotional recruitment banner used by Auburn Police Department at Petpalooza. The banner features Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson, who is awaiting trial for the 2019 murder and assault of Jesse Sarey. Photo courtesy of Jeff Trimble
Auburn police use photo of embattled officer on recruitment banner

Families of people killed by Jeffrey Nelson, who’s awaiting trial for murder, speak out over use of his photo at Petpalooza.

T
Use your King County library card to explore the outdoors

KCLS cardholders can check out a Discover Pass for two weeks to explore public lands.

Monkeypox virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
King County identifies first presumptive monkeypox case

The illness is not as easily transmitted compared to COVID-19, according to health officer.

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

t
Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.