Public Comment Period for Restoring Grizzlies to the North Cascades
by Gordon Congdon
The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have released new draft plans to both restore and actively manage grizzly bears in the North Cascades Ecosystem (NCE), a region they roamed for thousands of years. The plans are open for public comment until November 13, 2023. To learn more read the National Park Service Release.
The National Park Service has identified the NCE as one of North America’s premier intact ecosystems — but it is incomplete without grizzly bears. They were hunted, trapped, and poisoned, exterminating them from the landscape. The good news is, numerous studies have shown that the NCE is big enough and wild enough to support a viable population of grizzly bears.
Biologists have not been able to find evidence of a reproducing population in the North Cascades in more than 30 years and chances are near zero that grizzlies will reestablish themselves without human assistance because there are no grizzly populations close enough to serve as a source. Instead, wildlife biologists, based on decades of thorough research, have developed a well-crafted plan to reintroduce and carefully monitor bears in the North Cascades. Restoring grizzly bears to the NCE is a crucial step in preserving the region’s ecological and cultural heritage.
The new restoration plan presents three options. Option A is “no action” and would not result in restoration. Alternatives B and C are described as the “action alternatives.” These options would add 5-7 bears each year to the ecosystem over the next 5-10 years, until a foundation of 25 bears is reached. B and C differ in how the bears would be managed.
Alternative B would continue to consider grizzly bears a threatened species. Alternative C would redesignate the North Cascades grizzly as an experimental population allowing wildlife managers more options to reduce, prevent, and confront human-bear conflict. The National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many local citizens, believe Alternative C will provide the best path forward for both people and grizzlies in our region.
I encourage you to submit comments on the draft plan to ensure the successful reintroduction of these iconic animals. Submit public comments for both the “Draft EIS” and the “Proposed 10(j)” by November 13.
For more information click the following links:
Wenatchee Naturalist: A blog post by Susan Ballinger from Wenatchee
Why Bears?: A short film by Chris Morgan about why conserving bears is important.