FWS and NPS Consider Public Input on Grizzly Bear Restoration

By Colleen Hartel

Grizzly Bears Image credit: Ture Schultz/USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service are accepting public comments on a proposal that may eventually lead to grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) population restoration management activities in the Northern Cascades, which are part of the species’ historical range. The Washington Department of Game and Fish as well as the U.S. Forest Service will also cooperate with the agencies to implement the restoration activities.

The two agencies published a notice of the intent to jointly draft a Northern Cascades Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Reintroduction Plan and Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register. The Northern Cascades Ecosystem (NCE) includes the Northern Cascades National Park Complex, which is surrounded by 2.6 million contiguous acres of federally designated wilderness, and extends into British Columbia, Canada.

The habitat is isolated from other areas inhabited U.S. grizzly bear populations, and only one bear has been observed in the last ten years despite research indicating the landscape’s ability to support a self-sustaining grizzly bear population. Grizzly Bears are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but the NCE population is particularly at risk. The notice identifies the need to prevent NCE grizzly bears from becoming locally extinct due to the bears’ low population numbers and slow reproductive rate.

The objectives of the NCE Restoration Plan and Environmental Impact Statement that will be drafted are to restore grizzly bear populations, support cultural and environmental values associated with grizzly bears, and expand outreach efforts.

The NPS and FWS are accepting public comment until March 26th and recently held public meetings to solicit input on grizzly bear restoration activities.

Source: Greenwire (March 11, 2015)

Colleen Hartel is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

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