The Biden Administration is looking at a plan to introduce grizzly bears in rural Washington state, in spite of serious concerns from local residents.
Under this plan, bears would be relocated every summer from grizzly-dense regions such as Yellowstone to the North Cascades ecosystem, until the population reaches a self-sustaining mass to the satisfaction of federal biologists.
A draft of the restoration plan was released a few weeks ago by the U.S. National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). The agencies stated they will seek input from the public. They have limited what constitutes a valid public comment. Some think this is meant to silence locals and give undue accommodation to radical environmental groups with access to academics and lawyers.
The North Cascades region encompasses some 6.1 million acres, almost entirely undeveloped. Grizzly bears once used to live here, but the last official sighting was in 1996. A plan to introduce grizzlies here was killed in 2020 by the Trump administration. For some time, ranching groups and others who live in the American West have been pushing the federal government to remove the grizzly bear from the Endangered Species List. Some say this reintroduction plan could explain why demands to delist grizzlies have been ignored.
Agriculture groups have spoken out against reinstating grizzlies, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Public Lands Council (PLC), and the Washington Cattlemen’s Association (WCA).
Congressman Dan Newhouse, a Republican who represents areas in Central Washington, is a strong opponent of the plan. He says locals are being ignored by environmental ideologues in urban areas who will not have to live with the consequences of their management decisions.
“The Biden administration is not prioritizing local concerns to this proposed rule,” Rep. Newhouse told The Washington Post.
Grizzly bears are 20 times more dangerous than black bears. Several grizzly attacks have occurred in North America so far this year alone. In September 2023, a couple and their dog were killed by a grizzly in Banff National Park. Another woman was fatally mauled on Buttermilk Trail west of West Yellowstone in July.
On October 11, Rep. Newhouse issued a statement that read in part: “Central Washingtonians have consistently voiced their concerns and opposition over the introduction of grizzly bears…yet unelected bureaucrats…continue to try to force these predators upon our communities.”
Over the course of four public comment sessions, Rep. Newhouse said hundreds of Washingtonians have voiced their strong opposition to sharing their backyards with the apex predator.
In total, there are six regions in the United States where federal biologists in the Biden administration say they want to introduce grizzly bear populations.