The National Parks Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife are weighing a plan to bring grizzly bears back to Washington’s North Cascades for the first time in nearly three decades.
Both departments are looking for the public’s feedback on an environment impact statement (EIS) that lays out options for bringing grizzlies back to the area.
Although grizzly bears haven’t been seen there since 1996, they had lived in the North Cascades for thousands of years prior to that. According to the NPS, they were “an essential part of the ecosystem, distributing seeds and keeping other wildlife populations in balance.” Their population was tragically thinned in the 20th century, though, when they were almost hunted to extinction in the area.
One of the options suggested in the EIS would establish an “experimental population” of North Cascades grizzly bears, affording them added protections under the Endangered Species Act.
That said, USFW also wants to make sure that local communities get a say in the plan moving forward.
“If this part of our natural heritage is restored, it should be done in a way that ensures communities, property, and the animals can all coexist peacefully,” USFW Regional Director Hugh Morrison said in a news release.
For more details about how to submit comments and attend upcoming public meetings, you can head to this link.
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