Stay Informed to Bring Grizzlies Back to the North Cascades

Snowy grizzly in Yellowstone NP
Photo: Jim Peaco
The North Cascades historically hosted an abundant grizzly population. Hunting wiped out bears in the region and they remain incredibly rare to this day.

PUBLIC COMMENT UPDATE (12/21): The public comment period for the first draft of the interagency Environmental Impact Statement is now closed. Click to read Vital Ground’s comment in support of grizzly reintroduction to the North Cascades and stay tuned for updates on future public comment opportunities!

By Kayla Heinze, Communications Specialist

The moss-covered conifers of the North Cascades once towered over a robust grizzly bear population. In the 1800s, the pattern of overhunting seen across the West decimated the population to the point of local extinction.

Map of North Cascades Ecosystem

It’s been more than 25 years since the last confirmed grizzly sighting in the U.S. portion of the Cascades. After several false starts in recent years, the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are now evaluating options for restoring grizzlies to the ecosystem where they once roamed widely. Through December 14th, you can submit a comment for the agencies’ consideration as they develop their plans for restoration.

Grizzlies belong in the North Cascades. As a barometer of ecosystem health, a restored grizzly population in the region would have positive ripple effects in boosting soil health and berry dispersal, among many other impacts. But for the people who call the region home, there are understandable worries about learning to coexist with such powerful creatures.

In anticipation of the return of grizzlies, Vital Ground has spent years partnering with wildlife managers and conservation-minded organizations to help North Cascades communities prepare to live with grizzly bears once again. This preemptive work, highlighted in a film by conservation ecologist Chris Morgan, can now come to fruition as people get the chance to weigh in on the future of grizzlies.

Photo of an alpine meadow and mountains in the North Cascades Ecosystem
The North Cascades are full of historic grizzly habitat.

The agencies are considering designating the population as a 10(j) experimental population, meaning grizzlies in the ecosystem would be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. To build back the Cascades’ once-abundant population, wildlife managers will translocate healthy bears from nearby ecosystems. Working with local communities to increase bear awareness will continue to be an important part of helping these bears thrive after they arrive in the North Cascades.

Make your voice heard on behalf of grizzlies. With fires destroying habitat, development expanding into rural areas, and rising temperatures causing food shortages, grizzlies need as many footholds as they can get to flourish in an uncertain future. The mountains of the North Cascades offer vast wilderness, including protected national parkland, with over 9,000 square miles of excellent grizzly habitat. Reintroducing them in the ecosystem is a crucial piece of the Lower 48’s larger grizzly conservation puzzle.

Learn more and submit your comment here…

Share this post:

Posts by Category

Posts by Month