Reintroducing grizzly bears to Washington’s North Cascades has been hotly debated for decades. Now, the federal government has put forth a draft of several plans to recover the population. People can voice their concerns or support at a series of public meetings that start today.
Wildlife biologist Bill Gaines has studied grizzly bears during his entire career with the U.S. Forest Service. He estimates there are fewer than five grizzlies left in the North Cascades.
“The likelihood of the [grizzly] bears recovering in the North Cascades on their own is very, very small,” Gaines said. “In fact it probably isn’t going to happen.”
Plans to recover grizzlies range from doing nothing to bringing in a few grizzlies slowly to even more aggressive relocation efforts, according to the draft. The ultimate goal is to increase the population to 200 bears in a hundred years, if not sooner.
Some recreation groups, hunters, and ranchers have raised concerns about safety and their animals’ welfare.
Comments will be accepted through March 14.
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