Reaction To Zinke’s Call To Restore Grizzly Bears To North Cascades

Last Friday morning’s announcement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that he wanted to “accelerate” the federal review of proposals to restore grizzly bears in Washington’s North Cascades led to a spectrum of reaction.

SECRETARY OF INTERIOR RYAN ZINKE SPEAKS BEFORE REPORTERS AND OTHERS ON MARCH 23, 2018, ON RESTORATION OF GRIZZLY BEARS TO THE NORTH CASCADES. (CHASE GUNNELL)

Here is a sampling:

Ethan Lane, executive director, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council, via AgInfo.net

“We are extremely disappointed with the Department of the Interior’s support to introduce Grizzly Bears to the North Cascades of Washington. For more than a year we have heard the Secretary talk about being a better neighbor, but unfortunately actions speak louder than words. Reintroducing as many as 200 man-eating predators into an area already reeling from exploding gray wolf populations is anything but neighborly. This decision won’t just impact ranchers – it’s a blow for the entire North Cascades ecosystem, the safety of locals and visitors, and the local economy, too. In fact, the only beneficiaries of an action like this will be the radical environmental activists that support this type of ill-advised ecosystem tinkering.”

Mitch Friedman, executive director, Conservation Northwest, via Skagit Valley Herald

“It’s been 30 years — it was in ‘88 that we started advocating for grizzly bear recovery. That’s quite a span of time … to have a horizon for success is astounding.”

Rob Smith, regional director, National Parks Conservation Association, via Seattle PI

“We’ve lost almost a year of progress toward grizzly recovery in the North Cascades, so we’re relieved that Secretary Zinke has decided to take the finger off the pause button and allow park and wildlife experts to continue their work.

“Wildlife science as well as public opinion support restoration of the grizzly bear to the North Cascades for ecosystem health and as a legacy for future generations.”

Sarah Ryan, executive vice president, Washington Cattlemen’s Association, via AgInfo.net

“The idea of dumping man-eating Grizzly Bears from helicopters into Washington National Parks has not been well thought out. Once the Grizzly Bears walk out of the park into rural towns and private and state lands, the communities surrounding the recovery area can be greatly impacted. Already the livestock community has had little to no help with the management and recovery of wolves in the North Cascades, and cannot accept and welcome another federally listed apex predator with no monetary help from the federal government. What is the reasoning behind thinking a recovery like this can be accomplished without the support of the ranching, logging, recreation, and natural resource based communities or consideration for public safety?”

Steven Rinella, The Meateater, via Twitter

If he follows through on this, this is big and great news.

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-4), via Yakima Herald Republic

“I am disappointed that Secretary Zinke did not first speak with me about his support of reintroducing grizzly bears in the North Cascades. Local communities in Central Washington thought reintroducing grizzly bears was a bad idea when proposed by the (Obama) administration and it would be just as bad an idea if entertained by the (Trump) administration.”

Chase Gunnell, communications director, Conservation Northwest, via email

As a lifelong Washingtonian and a hunter who carried a mule deer out of the wilderness of the North Cascades last year, alone and in the dark, I welcome the restoration of this iconic native species in this country that remains wild enough to sustain it. Despite high-quality habitat, the science is clear that because of isolation from other grizzly populations in Canada and the Rocky Mountains, grizzlies will not recover in the North Cascades on their own. It will take a few straightforward precautions, and some courage, but the North Cascades is big and rugged enough for both people and grizzly bears.

Salient thoughts from our social media post announcing the news, via facebook.com/NorthwestSportsmanMagazine

Daniel Martin Im one more Skagit valley republican that backcountry hunts and off trail backpacks frequently throughout the year that supports restoration of the grizzly. I’m more worried about wolves then grizzlies, it just comes down to a simple fact of human interference and over trapping, if we ( humans) have impacted the wildlife it’s our duty as humans to be Stewards of that wildlife and balance it as best as possible whether its predator or its prey. Yeah I would like tons more deer and elk walking around so I can hunt them easier but that’s being a little selfish when the last generations of humans over hunted and removed grizzlies from the landscape in the first place. No one knows if deer and elk populations will plummet when grizzlies come back but it seems that Wyoming,Alaska, and Montana are doing just fine with grizzlies around. Yeah I do think wolves need to be hunted and kept in check so they don’t deplete the game population and eventually I would want the grizzly to be managed the same.
Ralph Lane Jr. Well Daniel, we could just all move to Georgia and let the predators and rascally politicians have this place! Would that suit? The West was settled by humans FOR humans. If the populations of the indigenous went down in some cases, so be it. Adding more predatory animals back to the environment now will only result in more confrontation between them and humans and guess who LOSES?
…..
Kari Anne Hirschberger Daniel, that’s fine to be open to grizzlies inhabiting the Cascades, but it’s an entirely different issue regarding introducing them. The population in BC is heathy and they have not taken advantage of the open territory for a reason… and it isn’t due to humans hunting or otherwise minimizing their opportunities; we do NOT have the species of moths they take advantage of for a high protein source like in Montana… with the wildfires the region has seen in the past decade we definitely do not have high enough denisoty of white bark pine, and we don’t have the high density of bison and elk to take advantage of either… so what do you think these critters will eat? The habitat availability isn’t an issue… it’s the quality that has kept the numbers low. I feel introducing them sets them up for failure; either they directly compete with native black bear, or migrate to lowlands where the propensity for negative human interactions is high. Let them migrate back into the Cascades if they choose, but forcing their hand does good for nobody in my opinion. ?????
Daniel Martin Thanks for a well written opinion Kari Anne Hirschberger. I understand your point as I have listened to many a podcast and biologist speaking to your point. As far as moths and large ungulate prey is concerned as a high protein diet ( which they no doubt are) the moth issue as far as white bark Pine goes is two sided. The opinion that it is a big impact on bear diet and not a big impact on a bear diet is a debate. If biologists from our state ( which I have not heard any negatives as far as grizzly obtaining enough protein ) have good facts leading them to say they would survive fine then I trust there opinion. Grizzlies do compete with black bears in a balanced eco system, they displace black bears as they are supposed to do. There are so many meadows in the north cascade range full of bear food, and there is plenty of scavenging opportunities for all bears. I’m not worried that grizzlies will have a lack of food. As you know The reason a brown bear is so large is because of the abundance of marine protein ( salmon, shellfish etc) the brown bear is just a coastal grizzlie. The actual Alaskan grizzly which is a interior bear doesn’t naturally have the same protein access as the coastal bear and survives off vegetation and scavenging. The north Cascade’s grizzly would have a very similar habitat.
Also as a theory wouldn’t it be more of a incentive for wdfw to put more resources into growing our elk herds, mule deer herds.

One thought on “Reaction To Zinke’s Call To Restore Grizzly Bears To North Cascades”

  1. Obviously none of the people commenting have ever been face to face with a grizzly or brown bear, I have and was sufficiently armed to put them down. I don’t care how much food is available they just don’t like company. Now bear huggers want to put them into a.park where it’s illegal to be armed. There is a reason why there are so few present now, because the habitat is wrong.

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