Bear With Us

Grizzlies Might Return to the Cascade Mountains

And for that we may have to thank…the Trump Administration?

By Allison Williams May 22, 2018 Published in the June 2018 issue of Seattle Met

Shutterstock by eric isselee 55397170 encsrk

The grizzly bear, or Ursus arctos horribilis, can reach 900 pounds and eight feet tall when standing upright (which they do, which is horrifying). But with fewer than 10 remaining in the North Cascades—thanks, trophy hunting!—conservationists generally support boosting the population. And now Trump’s secretary of the interior does, too.

In 2014, government agencies began to examine reintroduction of 25 captured grizzlies in 10,000 square miles between I-90 and the Canadian border. After a public review period that recorded 126,000 citizen comments, the process halted in late 2017, when park service officials claimed secretary Ryan Zinke told them to stand down. Then in March, another reversal; Zinke spoke in favor of the plan, which put the Environmental Impact Study back on the fast track and could mean new bears within a few years.

Bear phobics, now is not the time to panic. Those 25 grizzlies won’t likely approach humans, says Joe Scott of nonprofit Conservation Northwest: “That’s an infinitesimally low density of grizzly bears.” Black bears like to raid trash cans, but their cousins spurn civilization. 

And, notes Scott, animals like wolves and wolverines have staged Cascade comebacks on their own, leaving only a grizzly-shaped hole in the system. “Ecologically, biologically, ethically, and morally, it’s the right thing to do.” 

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