In 49 hours, the National Park Service will stop taking comments on an important issue: whether to reintroduce grizzly bears into the North Cascades near Seattle. If you leave a comment on their website before then, you can help make this happen! Follow the easy directions here:
Please go ahead! Then tell your friends to join in, and give them this link. This can be your good deed for the day.
But if you want more details:
Grizzly bears are traditionally the apex predator in the North Cascades. Without the apex predator, the whole ecosystem is thrown out of balance. I know this from my childhood in northern Virginia, where deer are stripping the forest of all low-hanging greenery with no wolves to control them. With the top predator, the whole ecosystem springs to life and starts humming like a well-tuned engine! For example, when wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park, it seems that even riverbeds were affected:
There are several plans to restore grizzlies to the North Cascades. On the link I recommended, Matthew Inman supports Alternative C — Incremental Restoration. I’m not an expert on this issue, so I went ahead and supported that. There are actually 4 alternatives on the table:
Alternative A — No Action. They’ll keep doing what they’re already doing. The few grizzlies already there would be protected from poaching, the local population would be advised on how to deal with grizzlies, and the bears would be monitored. All other alternatives will do these things and more.
Alternative B — Ecosystem Evaluation Restoration. Up to 10 grizzly bears will be captured from source populations in northwestern Montana and/or south-central British Columbia and released at a single remote site on Forest Service lands in the North Cascades. This will take 2 years, and then they’ll be monitored for 2 years before deciding what to do next.
Alternative C — Incremental Restoration. 5 to 7 grizzly bears will be captured and released into the North Casades each year over roughly 5 to 10 years, with a goal of establishing an initial population of 25 grizzly bears. Bears would be released at multiple remote sites. They can be relocated or removed if they cause trouble. Alternative C is expected to reach the restoration goal of approximately 200 grizzly bears within 60 to 100 years.
Alternative D — Expedited Restoration. 5 to 7 grizzly bears will be captured and released into the North Casades each year until the population reaches about 200, which is what the area can easily support.
So, pick your own alternative if you like!
By the way, the remaining grizzly bears in the western United States live within six recovery zones:
• the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in Wyoming and southwest Montana,
• the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) in northwest Montana,
• the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem (CYE) in extreme northwestern Montana and the northern Idaho panhandle,
• the Selkirk Ecosystem (SE) in northern Idaho and northeastern Washington,
• the Bitterroot Ecosystem (BE) in central Idaho and western Montana,
• and the North Cascades Ecosystem (NCE) in northwestern and north-central Washington.
The North Cascades Ecosystem consists of 24,800 square kilometers in Washington, with an additional 10,350 square kilometers in British Columbia. In the US, 90% of this ecosystem is managed by the US Forest Service, the US National Park Service, and the State of Washington, and approximately 41% falls within Forest Service wilderness or the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.
For more, read this:
• National Park Service, Draft Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan / Environmental Impact Statement: North Cascades Ecosystem.
The picture of grizzlies is from this article:
• Ron Judd, Why returning grizzlies to the North Cascades is the right thing to do, Pacific NW Magazine, 23 November 2015.
If you’re worried about reintroducing grizzly bears, read it!
The map is from here:
• Krista Langlois, Grizzlies gain ground, High Country News, 27 August 2014.
Here you’ll see the huge obstacles this project has overcome so far.