Deadline Approaching: Share Your Input on Reintroducing Grizzly Bears to the North Cascades
Conservation Northwest / Oct 30, 2023 / Action Alert, Grizzly Bears
Draft Environmental Impact Statement ‘Alternative C’ is the most comprehensive plan that ensures both active restoration and pragmatic management in recovering the North Cascades grizzly bear.
Conservation Northwest supports Alternative C and the proposed 10(j) Rule designating a recovering North Cascades grizzly bear population as Experimental-non-Essential.
The National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) are seeking public input on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that evaluates options for restoring grizzly bears to Washington’s North Cascades Ecosystem, where the animals were once abundant. USFWS is also inviting public comment on a proposed rule under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act that would provide agencies more flexibility to manage the grizzly bear population in different situations, including bears that may come into conflict with people.
Our long experience with this issue has made it clear that such a rule is paramount for the success of active grizzly bear recovery efforts. Alternative C and the proposed 10(j) Rule is our best choice that meets both ecological and social needs.
Comment Period Ends November 13th, 11:59 PM PST
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) provides three options in response to restoring grizzly bears to the North Cascades ecosystem:
Alternative A: “No Action Taken”
Alternative A outlined in the draft EIS is a ‘no-action alternative’ and would continue existing management practices without grizzly translocations.
*This alternative would NOT likely result in grizzly bear recovery because there are no sources of bears in Washington or British Columbia close enough or abundant enough to naturally repopulate the North Cascades Ecosystem.
Alternative B: “Restoration without Section 10(j) Designation”
Alternative B is an ‘action alternative’ that proposes to move grizzly bears into the Cascades as a Threatened Species without a 10(j) rule. In other words, Alternative B would continue to consider grizzly bears a threatened species. Alternative B would add 3-7 bears each year to the ecosystem over the next 5-10 years until a total of 25 bears is reached.
*This alternative may limit management on the ground or responsive measures in the case of conflict.
Alternative C: “Restoration with Section 10(j) Designation” – CONSERVATION NW’S CHOICE!
Alternative C is an ‘action alternative’ and would designate grizzlies in the area as an experimental population under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act. Both Alternative B and C options would add 3 to 7 bears each year to the ecosystem over the next 5 to 10 years until a total of 25 bears is reached.
*This designation would give communities and land managers additional options for managing bears, including deterrence, relocation, or removal of animals involved in a conflict. These additional tools could offer more safety and certainty for the region, while still providing for the recovery and conservation of the species.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
An EIS is a document that evaluates and discusses potential environmental impacts that would occur as a result of taking an action that may significantly affect the quality of the human environment.
Review the draft EIS, submit comments, see meeting information, and find additional information here.
USFWS 10(j) Rule of the Endangered Species Act
A 10(j) experimental population is a special designation for a group of plants or animals that are restored in an area that is geographically isolated from other populations of the listed species.
Review the proposed 10(j) rule from the USFW, submit comments, and find additional information here.
Comment Letter Template
Feel free to adapt and personalize our sample letter below and submit your comments to NPS by November 13th.
I am writing to support the restoration of a healthy population of grizzly bears to the North Cascades, their home for thousands of years. Where grizzly bears thrive, so does clean water, and abundant native fish and wildlife populations.
I support Alternative C: Restoration with Section 10(j) Designation. Alternative C is the best choice for bears and the people who live in and visit the North Cascades Ecosystem. The plan is wisely modeled on what’s worked in Montana where grizzlies are recovering in the Cabinet-Yaak mountains with few problems and with the acceptance and involvement of local communities.
Furthermore, the 10(j) rule will give people more management tools to reduce, prevent, and respond to human-bear conflict. I believe that the 10(j) rule if properly implemented, will help increase human acceptance of grizzly bears as they return to the landscape.
Public opinion polls have shown broad support for grizzly bear restoration in Washington, including among those who live in the North Cascades. Please bring back this native species to our state through the strategy laid out in Alternative C. Doing so will restore an important piece of our ecosystem, regional culture, and natural heritage.
Thank you for taking the time to keep our North Cascades wild!
Additional talking points to consider:
- The North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone (NCGBRZ) is the second largest of six such designated areas at nearly 10,000 square miles. Combined with contiguous protected areas in British Columbia, including Manning Park, there are 14,000 square miles of productive, wild habitats, wilderness, and roadless areas.
- People and grizzly bears can coexist and thrive. They do so in British Columbia, Montana, and Wyoming where grizzly populations and back and front country recreation continue to grow hand in hand, providing a vital economic boost to those areas’ gateway communities.
- Grizzly bears lived in Washington for thousands of years. We still have a small population in the NE WA Selkirk Mountains. However, currently, there are no grizzly populations in the United States or Canada that are large enough or close enough to serve as a source to naturally repopulate the North Cascades.
- Having wiped out the grizzly bear over the past 150 years we now have the unique opportunity and the ethical obligation to restore them to their native home, where suitable habitats still exist.
- Grizzly bears are ecologically and culturally significant and are vital to the overall health of the North Cascades ecosystem and its biodiversity. They are considered an indicator of ecosystem health.
- Restoring grizzly bears as an “Experimental, non-essential” population under a well-crafted Section 10(j) rule of the Endangered Species Act makes sense. Such a designation will provide flexibility for wildlife managers to prevent and address human-bear conflict and a greater level of comfort for people who are concerned about the impacts of wildlife recovery on economic and recreation activities. Agencies have used the Section 10(j) Rule in the past to restore black-footed ferrets, California condors, wood bison, and many others.
- For more information, please visit northcascadesgrizzly.org
International Programs Associate Director