Here’s a good update on the status of grizzly bear reintroduction in the North Cascades. (Kudos to Randy Kenyon for passing this one along.)
The federal government has drafted plans to bring grizzly bears back to Washington state’s North Cascades, the next step toward reintroducing the threatened species to a region where it was eliminated by hunters decades ago.
Grizzlies once played a key role in north-central Washington’s vast expanse of forest, mountains and valleys. Now the North Cascades is one of the last places left in the Lower 48 states where grizzly bears would be able to thrive — and U.S. agencies are evaluating whether to start a population there that could grow to 200 bears within a century.
Bringing them back would be the culmination of a decades-long effort to restore grizzly bears to the ecosystem, one of six spots in the country where federal biologists have aimed to recover decimated populations.
Ending a period of uncertainty, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced his support for grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascades . . .
The federal government intends to restore grizzly bears in the remote North Cascade Mountains of Washington state, a goal that represents “the American conservation ethic come to life,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Friday.
Zinke made the announcement during a visit to North Cascades National Park’s headquarters in Sedro-Woolley, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) north of Seattle.
The Department of the Interior announced in 2014 that it would consider relocating grizzlies to aid their recovery in the Cascades. An environmental review has been underway, but in recent months there have been questions about whether it would continue. Zinke made clear it would, with a formal decision expected by the end of the year.
“Restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades Ecosystem is the American conservation ethic come to life,” Zinke said in a news release. “The loss of the grizzly bear in the North Cascades would disturb the ecosystem and rob the region of an icon.”
Work on grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades Ecosystem has been halted even as the continental United States’ two largest grizzly populations near removal from Endangered Species Act protection.
North Cascades National Park Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee on Wednesday that her staff had been asked to stop work on its environmental impact statement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office.
The order also stalls discussions with Canadian wildlife managers who oversee a similar grizzly recovery process in British Columbia, she said.
A couple of years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service started taking public comments on a plan to restore the grizzly population of Washington’s Cascade Range. Now, they are a step closer to a plan that will include using some of Montana’s grizzlies to seed a new population in the North Cascades . . .
In a few years, some grizzly bears from Northwest Montana could have new homes in the North Cascades Ecosystem of Washington and British Columbia. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service earlier this year released a draft environmental impact statement to reintroduce the iconic species back to the Cascades. At least some of the bears would come from Northwest Montana if the project comes to fruition.
The 6.1 million acre North Cascades have a smattering of grizzlies in Canada and in the U.S., the last known breeding female was seen in the early 1990s. The bears were hunted and trapped to near extinction by the Hudson Bay Co. about 200 years ago, noted Park Service spokesman Jack Oelfke.
Isolated by both geography and human barriers like highways and railroads, the bears have little chance of re-establishing populations on their own.
Looks like Washington’s Cascade Range may be getting some grizzly bears . . .
A tentative federal proposal to restore grizzly bears in the North Cascades will be explained at public meetings next month.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service are taking public comments for an environmental impact statement before deciding whether to take an active role in restoring the grizzly bear to the North Cascades Ecosystem…
The North Cascades ecosystem encompasses 9,800 square miles in the United States and another 3,800 square miles in British Columbia. The United States portion includes North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake and Lake Chelan national recreation areas plus the Okanogan-Wenatchee and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie national forests.