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.
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