[2/13/17] Federal Agencies Look At How To Recover The Grizzly Bear

Posted in Feature, Local Government & Meetings

Federal agencies released a draft plan on how to recover the grizzly bear population in the North Cascades. Suffering from increasingly thinning populations, a grizzly hasn’t been sighted in the US portion of the North Cascades since 1996, although one recently was confirmed within 20 miles of the US border.

The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are considering four options. Three of them set goals of 200 bears over varying time periods, with one option taking no action. Other cooperating agencies include the US Forest Service and Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Denise Shultz with the National Park Service says they’re working to determine what level of action the public thinks they should take. She added they have yet to finalize the locations of bear re-introduction.

021317 BEARS SCHULTZ 1 – 0:29

“…in or along the ecosystem.”

The decision comes as federal officials consider delisting grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park, where the population is estimated to be about 700.

While a plan to help the species in Washington state has long been delayed, Shawn Cantrell of Defenders of Wildlife said public support for recovering grizzlies in the North Cascades is high. He said according to a poll conducted by Defenders of Wildlife a few months ago, 80-percent of Washingtonians support recovery efforts.

021317 BEARS CANTRELL 1 – 0:08

“…trying to move this process forward.”

Opponents of repopulation worry about interactions between grizzlies and humans or livestock. However, the agencies note grizzlies tend to avoid areas of human activity and would be relocated to remote areas of public land near North Cascades National Park.

The North Cascades Ecosystem encompasses 9,800 square miles in the United States and another 3,800 square miles in British Columbia, Canada. The US portion includes North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

The options proposed by the federal agencies differ in the number of bruins initially released and the time expected to get to that goal, ranging from 25 years for the expedited option to 60 to 100 years for the other two.

Cantrell said the current bear population is fragile.

021317 BEARS CANTRELL 2 – 0:12

“…reverse this decline that’s been going on.”

The grizzly bear was listed as a threatened species in the contiguous United States in 1975. The species was listed as endangered by the state of Washington in 1980.

Schultz said the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed options for recovery, online and at a series of eight public meetings through March 14.

021317 BEARS SCHULTZ 2 – 0:23

“…to be able to engage.”

The first of eight open houses is in Cle Elum today. The second is tomorrow in Cashmere. It’s at the Riverside Center from 6-8 p.m. You can also submit your comments on the Park Service website: parkplanning.nps.gov.