County Commissioners question plans to reintroduce grizzly bears into North Cascades

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Grizzly Bears

Chelan County Commissioners met with representatives of the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife at their Tuesday commission meeting to discuss plans to reintroduce grizzly bears into the North Cascades Wilderness.

The plans are to relocate bears from across the border in Canada where they reportedly thrive in large numbers.

reintroduce grizzly bears
Jack Oelfke, National Parks Service

Commissioners learn more about grizzly bear plans

Commissioner Kevin Overbay asked Jack Oelfke with the Park Service why the bears cannot naturally migrate into the US given their healthy population in British Columbia.

“They are so far away and there is no connectivity in terms of habitat or pressure for those bears to move out or come south to find different habitat,” Oelfke said. “There is no internal pressure in those areas adjacent to us that would naturally push bears out.”

Oelfke said unlike wolves, who expand and seek new areas, grizzly bear populations in the north or east are declining and shrinking.

One of the options offered through the plan’s environmental Impact Study proposes relocating up to 200 Grizzlies into the North Cascades. The deadline for Public Comments on the Grizzly Bear Environmental Impact Statement is March 14th.

The draft EIS can be found at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=44144.