North Cascades Will Once Again Become Home to Grizzly Bears


Federal officials have released a comprehensive draft plan recently for restoring grizzly bears to the North Cascades. If plan materialises the North Cascades will once again become home to Grizzly bears.

Following two years of public process, the plan proposes a fourfold options that ranges  from taking no action to varying efforts of capturing bears from other places and relocating them to the huge stretch of public land surrounding North Cascades National Park.

Once Grizzly bears had their home in the rugged area of Washington. However their population is drastically reduced in recent times.

It is noteworthy that the grizzly bear was listed as one of the threatened species in the contiguous U.S. in 1975. State of Washington in 1980 listed the species as endangered.

Two of the the proposed plans have set a goal of approximately 200 bears within 60 to 100 years, while a third envisages immediate action to restore 200 animals in 25 years..

The state Govt has not taken a stand  on the proposed  federal recovery plan, but unlikely be able to support it. It is to be noted that the Washington state had passed a law some three decades back in support of grizzly bear recovery but prohibits state institutions from importing bears from places other than within the state.

The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first want to seek inputs over the next several weeks  from experts and public in this regard  before they choose an alternative. Release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement was made in consonance with provision in Endangered Species Act. ‘

The endeavour  officially began in 2015 after decades of urging by concerned people, agencies, and scientists. The 60-day public comment period for the draft will witness 8 public meetings across various towns in the North Cascades region.

The draft plan has come at at time  when the federal government is considering whether to lift protections for more than 700 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park. It had been planned to finalize by the end of 2016 a proposal to turn management of grizzlies over to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming officials with a plan for limited hunting. The decision was however opposed at various quarters.

Supporters of the initiative argue that the solitary, massive creatures – a symbol of wilderness – should be brought back. They feel  the bear population won’t recover without help and their return would increase the biodiversity in the regions. However, there are also opposition to the plan in some quarter. They feel that such a move may cause dangers to people and livestock and has potential to impact communities, ranchers, farmers and others.

However, Federal officials feel that grizzly bears tend to avoid areas of human settlement and activity. Besides  the animals would be relocated in remote areas, away from settlement and domesticated animal grazing area. They will also  be radio-collared and monitored.

You may be aware of North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone. This zone is anchored by North Cascades National Park, was designated by federal scientists back in 1997, when it was determined the region has great quality habitat to support a huge grizzly population. North Cascades  is the only grizzly bear recovery area on the west coast of the country. The other four zones are in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

Some 50,000 grizzlies once roamed much of North America. Most were killed by hunters in the 19th and early 20th centuries. . Without human intervention, the North Cascades area grizzlies could disappear in no time. Individual bears are increasingly isolated and thus have almost no opportunity to breed. At present it is estimated that their number is less than 20 in the region. It is very rare to spot them.

The proposal as hoped would correct the imbalance and North Cascades will once again become home to grizzly bears. 


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