Grizzly reintroduction taken off the table for the North Cascades

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OMAK — The reintroduction of grizzly bears into the North Cascades is a non-starter.

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced today at a roundtable in Omak that the federal government will not move forward with a new restoration plan to bring the bear back to the central Washington wilderness.

“The Trump Administration is committed to being a good neighbor, and the people who live and work in north central Washington have made their voices clear that they do not want grizzly bears reintroduced into the North Cascades,” Bernhardt said.

Fourth District U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Sunnyside Republican, has opposed the idea of grizzly reintroduction for years.The draft plan created in 2017 set a goal of restoring 200 bears throughout more than 2.6 million acres.

“I am enormously grateful to Secretary Bernhardt for not only listening to our concerns and opinions, but for delivering this news in person, right here in North Central Washington,” Newhouse said in the meeting.

Conservation watchers say there may now be fewer than five wild grizzlies ranging in Washington. The bear has been listed as a federally threatened species since 1975, and endangered in the state since 1980. 

The North Cascades plan was the only reintroduction proposal for grizzlies outside the Rocky Mountains. The zone identified as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has been the primary focus of grizzly recovery efforts in the U.S.