Grizzly bears to return to Washington despite opposition

Apr 25, 2024, 1:57 PM

Photo: This July 6, 2011 photo shows a grizzly bear roaming near Beaver Lake in Yellowstone Nationa...

This July 6, 2011 photo shows a grizzly bear roaming near Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. (File photo: Jim Urquhart, AP)

(File photo: Jim Urquhart, AP)

Grizzly bears WILL be returning to the North Cascades.

That’s the decision from the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Their plan — which has no start date, yet — is to reintroduce three to seven grizzlies into the region, every year, until there’s at least a consistent population of 25 bears.

More on the strategy: Grizzly bears could soon roam Washington forests in controversial plan

The bears would be brought in from the Rocky Mountains or interior British Columbia.

The agencies are hopeful the North Cascades grizzly population will increase to 200 bears within 60 to 100 years.

The bears are expected to be fitted with GPS collars and monitored. Grizzlies that threaten humans can be relocated or killed.

Still, there are concerns that the plan is dangerous. Washington Congressman Dan Newhouse calls it “outrageous” and “misguided.”

Newhouse said many of his constituents in central Washington have criticized the plan.

“Today’s announcement reinforces what we feared, no amount of local opposition was going to prevent these federal bureaucrats from doing what they wanted all along,” Newhouse said in a statement.

But the park and wildlife agencies said grizzlies historically roamed the North Cascades until habitat loss and direct killing by trappers, miners and hunters removed most of the population from the North Cascades by the 1860’s.

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Reintroducing grizzly bears, they said, would contribute to the biodiversity of the region, and help the species’ overall recovery.

“Grizzly bears occupied the North Cascades for thousands of years as an essential part of the ecosystem, distributing native plant seeds and keeping other wildlife populations in balance,” the National Park Service wrote on its website.

The bears are on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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Grizzly bears to return to Washington despite opposition