Deceased bear on Washington beach is a sad reminder of stalled grizzly recovery efforts in the North Cascades
Conservation Northwest / Jun 22, 2022 / Grizzly Bears, North Cascades
We were disheartened to hear the news of a dead young grizzly bear found on a Whatcom County beach last week. Wildlife officials are investigating the bear’s origins, which must certainly be far distant from the Cherry Point beach on which it washed up. The spot is 50 miles from the wildlands of the North Cascades, where evidence of grizzly bears has been remarkably low and infrequent over the past three decades. More likely is that the bear was carried dead by currents and possibly river from farther north. According to officials, there was no obvious sign of the cause of death.
Conservation Northwest and our allies have been urging federal agencies to restart and complete the process to restore grizzly bears in the North Cascades. The process to bring bears back was started by the Obama administration and then inexplicably halted by the Trump administration in 2020, before a decision on action had been reached.
We implore the Biden administration to restart the environmental impact statement and to reach a decision on action to actively restore the endangered North Cascades population, one of just six grizzly bear recovery zones in the Lower 48 states, and the only one outside of the Rockies.
“We’ve got a lot of protected habitat. We’ve got a lot of bear food. It’s a safe, secure place where bears and recreation can co-exist,” said Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest.
It’s hard to escape the symbolism of this animal washing ashore so near to the North Cascades where plans to restore grizzly bears have seemingly been abandoned or, at best are stalled out.
We will continue to work towards grizzly bear recovery and urge federal agencies to act now. Without intervention and robust efforts to restore this population, it will certainly soon be extinct, as there is little prospect for natural recolonization from the small and not-so-close bear populations in southern British Columbia.
“What a good signal. These bears are saying, ‘We want to come home. We belong in the North Cascades.’” said Friedman.