Tag Archives: north cascades

The Mountain Goat That Wouldn’t Go

Whatcom County Farmer’s Lassoed Billy Was To Be Part Of 1925’s Olympic Peninsula Introductions

There’s goat roping, and then there’s mountain goat roping.

Yes, the latter is as much of a cluster as it sounds.

(DETAIL, “MOUNTAIN GOAT,” 1951, UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER, GENERAL SUBJECTS PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION, 1845-2005, WASHINGTON STATE ARCHIVES, DIGITAL ARCHIVES, HTTP://WWW.DIGITALARCHIVES.WA.GOV, ACCESSED JUNE 19, 2019)

With Washington’s various wildlife managers just about to begin year two of an effort to move the wild goats in the Olympics over to the species’ home range in the Cascades, I want to draw your attention back to the mid-1920s and the veritable “fifth Beatle” of the peninsula’s original quartet.

As she works on her genealogy projects, my mom occasionally forwards me old newspaper articles about Northwest fish and wildlife back in the day.

(You may remember last year’s Great Elk Drive Of Snohomish County).

Mom’s latest finds detail the capture of what would have been one of the first five members of the OlyPen’s herd, a particularly ornery — not to mention wayward — billy.

She happened across the stories while researching friends of her grandfather on her mother’s side. My great-grandpa Smith Miller worked for various local logging outfits back in the first half of the 1900s, down in National, up on Lake Shannon, and while in the North Cascades he became acquainted with the Galbraith clan.

They were a collection of tough hombres — timber cruisers, mill builders and farmers, as well as Mom says “inveterate hikers and woodsmen who would race up the slopes of Mt. Baker” as part of a short-lived local marathon that became the inspiration of today’s Ski to Sea relay.

Joe Galbraith won the inaugural race in summer 1911, which also included a road rally from Bellingham, and during the final weather-marred run to the top of the volcano and back down two Augusts later, his cousin Vic (who would years later give my uncle, then an infant, a backpack as a present) had to be rescued from a 40-foot-deep crevasse.

A SCREENSHOT OF A HEADLINE AND STORY FROM A JANUARY 1925 EDITION OF THE SEATTLE DAILY TIMES, NOW THE SEATTLE TIMES, DETAILS THE CAPTURE OF ONE OF THE ORIGINAL MOUNTAIN GOATS RELEASED IN THE OLYMPICS FROM THE NORTH CASCADES. (GENEAOLOGYBANK.COM)

THIS PARTICULAR TALE OCCURRED IN 1925, when Joe lived on his farm outside the town of Acme, which is east of Bellingham and north of Mt. Vernon, and it involves a mountain goat that inexplicably turned up in his back 40.

Details come from the pages of the Bellingham Herald and the Seattle Daily Times, today’s Fairview Fannie, as well as the journal The Murrelet.

According to reporters’ stories, on January 4, the first Sunday of 1925, Galbraith spotted the billy lying in one of his fields and immediately set out to lasso it, per the Herald.

What followed was described by the Daily Times as “an hour’s rumpus scattered over a ten-acre patch,” a battle that apparently left both the goat roper and ropee pretty banged up.

“Galbraith lassoed the goat with a forty-foot throw, but before he had subdued it he suffered skinned hands and shins, had bumped into stumps and had knocked over a fence post or two,” the paper reported.

It’s not clear why the billy had come so far down into the lowlands, but the Herald says it was believed to have been chased there, “possibly by coyotes or a cougar,” perhaps off of its winter range, or maybe it was stricken with the wanderlust males of a species get, or something else entirely.

Koma Kulshan — the native name for Mt. Baker — and its environs have long been a stronghold for Oreamnos americanus; in summer 2016, a whopping 90 were photographed on a single snowfield.

After subduing it, Galbraith tied the goat up and word of its capture quickly reached state game and fish managers.

They had just recently acquired four Canadian mountain goats via British Columbia from the Banff area (other records say the Selkirks to the west), and released them on New Year’s Day at the foot of Mount Storm King by Lakes Crescent and Sutherland outside Port Angeles.

“When the crates were first opened the goats refused to come out, being somewhat dopey from their long confinement. First one large one came out and (Olympic Forest Reserve ranger Chris) Morganroth (sic) attempted to photograph it. Down went the head and the goat made a plunge for Morganroth. Right there Morganroth proved that a man who can escape death by airplane can certainly beat a goat to safety. After the misdirected lunge the goat went up the rock cliff and found a crag satisfactory to him, and looked over Lake Crescent and surrounding country, going higher up a short time afterward.” —The Murrelet, January 1925.

Between J.W. Kinney, who supervised hunting and fishing in Washington at the time, local federal forestry officials and leadership of the Klahhane hiking club, it was believed the animals would do quite well in the peninsula’s rugged heights, according to The Murrelet, a local biological journal now published under another title.

So Kinney sent word for Joe Galbraith to hold onto his goat “until such time as it has regained its strength” following its flight out of the North Cascades and its battle with the farmer, and then arrangements would be made to ship it across Puget Sound.

Ultimately, 12 goats were set loose in the Olympics between early 1925 and some point later in the decade, according to The Murrelet, with most coming from Alaska as part of a swap for elk.

JANUARY 6 HEADLINE FROM THE BELLINGHAM HERALD. (GENEAOLOGYBANK.COM)

FAST FOWARD 90-PLUS YEARS AND TODAY’S state wildlife managers along with the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and various tribes are gearing up to for another round of translocating the several hundred descendants of those animals roaming the slopes of Hurricane Ridge, Mt. Olympus and other peaks over to the Cascades.

The idea is to reduce the environmental damage the nonnative species is causing to plants and terrain in the Olympics and bolster herds in their native habitat along the spine of the Evergreen State.

“We’ll start captures on July 8, go for 12 days; then start again August 19 for another 12 days,” says WDFW’s goat manager Rich Harris.

He says that based on last September’s two-week effort that saw 98 successfully moved, twice as many could be caught and transferred to the North and Central Cascades this summer.

Overall 115 were captured in 2018, with eight dying in the process, three deemed to be unfit and were euthanized, and six parentless kids transferred to Northwest Trek.

The other 68 nannies and 30 billies were released at five sites, including two near Darrington, one north of Rainy and Washington Passes in the North Cascades, one northwest of Kachess Lake by Snoqualmie Pass, and one in the headwaters of the Cedar River southwest of Snoqualmie Pass.

Two radio-collared goats were taken down by cougars, Harris says, while at least one of the Cedar animals went for a walkabout and showed up on Rattlesnake Ledge near North Bend last fall.

The translocation is expected to continue again next year before lethal removal is considered for any remaining cantankerous holdouts.

THREE MOUNTAIN GOATS ARRIVE BY HELICOPTER AT A RENDEZVOUS POINT DURING SEPTEMBER 2018’S TWO-WEEK-LONG CAPTURE AND TRANSLOCATION OPERATION. (NPS)

SPEAKING OF, THAT GOAT-ROPING ESCAPADE was thought to be just a warm-up act for the back-pasture billy.

“… (A) row is expected when Galbraith’s goat faces the buck on guard there” in the Olympics, the Daily Times wrote.

But it never made the trip to join 1925’s other four on the peninsula.

A “week to the hour” after its capture, it found itself “seeking eternal rest and evergreen pastures in a new stamping ground; perhaps where all goats go when they die …,” reported the Herald.

“… Joe’s goat, after spending a week a barn pending deportation to the Olympic mountains by the state game commission turned up its hoofs and passed out,” the paper stated.

The billy was said to announce the abrupt change of plans with a “feeble bleat.”

HEADLINE FROM THE JANUARY 13, 1925 BELLINGHAM HERALD. (GENEAOLOGYBANK.COM)

Despite the best efforts of a local veterinarian and the local game warden, the animal couldn’t be revived, the Herald stated.

But all was not lost. Shortly afterwards, its head, horns and coat were removed.

That October, what was billed as “the most striking exhibit ever,” a mounted mountain goat, was given to the local chamber chamber of commerce by the county game commission and Galbraith, reported the Herald.

Who knows why the billy that turned up in the lowands actually died, but the last story my mom found said it was estimated to have stood three and a half feet tall at the shoulders, would have dressed out at 250 pounds, and was estimated to be 15 years old, making it a very old goat indeed.

But then again, maybe it just didn’t want to leave its home mountains and take a long and winding road to strange new heights.

Cougar Hunt Closing In Oregon’s Coast/North Cascades Zone

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Cougar hunting is now closed through Dec. 31, 2018 in Zone A (Coast/North Cascades), which includes the entire Oregon Coast and much of northwest Oregon (see Zone Status and map).

AN ODFW MAP SHOWS ZONE A, WHICH IS CLOSING THROUGH THE END OF 2018 AND WILL REOPEN JAN. 1, 2019. (ODFW)

Total mortality in the Zone has reached the quota of 180, a number which includes all cougars killed by hunters or due to damage and public safety issues. While hunting is now closed, landowners experiencing damage or public safety issues may continue to take cougars in Zone A.

Cougar hunting in Zone A will reopen on Jan. 1, 2019.

Mountain Goats On The Move: Olympics-to-North Cascades Effort Starts Next Week

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Starting September 10, a coalition of state and federal agencies, with support from local tribes, will begin translocating mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the northern Cascade Mountains to meet wildlife management goals in both areas.

A TRIO OF MOUNTAIN GOATS CLING TO ROCKS ON THE RIDGE ABOVE THE ROAD TO HURRICANE RIDGE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

This effort to translocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula is a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades.

Area tribes lending support to the translocation plan in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes.

In May, the NPS released the final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlines the effort to remove the estimated 725 mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014.

This month’s two-week effort to move mountain goats to native habitat in the northern Cascades is the first translocation operation since the release of the final Mountain Goat Management Plan. Two additional two-week periods are planned for next year. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.

“Mountain goat relocation will allow these animals to reoccupy historical range areas in the Cascades and increase population viability,” said Jesse Plumage, USFS Wildlife Biologist.

While some mountain goat populations in the north Cascades have recovered since the 1990s, the species is still absent from many areas of its historic range.

Aerial capture operations will be conducted through a contract with a private company that specializes in the capture and transport of wild animals. The helicopter crew will use tranquilizer darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transport them in specially made slings to the staging area on Hurricane Hill Road beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park. The staging area will be closed to public access.

The animals will be examined by veterinarians before WDFW wildlife managers transport them overnight to staging areas in the north Cascades for release the following day.

During this first round, WDFW will only translocate goats from the park to non-wilderness release sites in the Cascades. There will be no closures for release operations in the national forests in 2018. To maximize success, goats will be brought directly to alpine habitats that have been selected for appropriate characteristics. To access these areas, goats will be airlifted in their crates by helicopter.

WDFW plans to release the mountain goats at five selected sites in the Cascades this month. Two release areas are near mountain peaks south of the town of Darrington, on the Darrington District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (MBS). The others are near Mt. Index, on the Skykomish Ranger District of the MBS, Tower Peak in the Methow area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and the headwaters of the Cedar River Drainage, which is land owned by Seattle Public Utilities.

“The translocation effort will relieve issues with non-native mountain goats in the Olympics while bolstering depleted herds in the northern Cascades,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Mountain goats cause significant impacts to the park ecosystem as well as public safety concerns.”

Mountain goats follow and approach hikers because they are attracted to the salt from their sweat, urine, and food. That behavior is less likely in the north Cascades where visitors are more widely distributed than those at Olympic National Park, said Rich Harris, a WDFW wildlife manager who specializes in mountain goats.

“In addition, the north Cascades has an abundance of natural salt licks, while the Olympic Peninsula has virtually none,” Harris said. “Natural salt licks greatly reduce mountain goats’ attraction to people.”

For more information about mountain goats in Washington state, see WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/mountain_goats.html.

Along with the staging area closure on Hurricane Hill Road, several trails in Olympic National Park will be closed for visitor and employee safety during helicopter operations. For more information and updates, visit www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/mountain-goat-capture-and-translocation.htm.

Olympic Mountain Goat Removal Approved

Federal and state wildlife managers now have the green light to begin removing those white-coated denizens of the Olympic Mountains.

A BILLY GOAT RESTS ON KLAHHANE RIDGE INSIDE OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK. (NPS)

The National Park Service issued its final record of decision to mostly translocate mountain goats off the peninsula to the North Cascades starting this summer, and kill those that prove too hard to capture.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service to relocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum in a press release. “In turn, we support the state, the U.S. Forest Service, and area tribes to re-establish sustainable populations of goats in the Washington Cascades, where goats are native, and populations have been depleted.”

Efforts will begin this summer to move as many of the 725 goats as possible to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, supplementing scattered herds there.

Though native to those parts of Washington, the species was introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s for hunting.

Creation of the national park precluded hunting and the population grew, leading to damage in the uplands and the fatal goring of a hiker.

The park service estimates that 50 percent of the goats will be translocated and another 40 percent lethally removed by federal, state and “skilled public volunteers” guided by spotter planes,  carried by helicopters and using nontoxic ammo.

Chopper flights will occur in July’s second half and at the end of summer. Salt licks will be used to draw goats to areas away from public view or closed to hikers for management activities.

While the goal is to remove all the goats, officials acknowledge they may not be able to get them all.

Olympic Mountain Goats To Be Moved To North Cascades, Under EIS Out For Final Review

Mountain goats are meant for the mountains, just not the Olympics, where the nonnative species will likely soon begin to be captured and relocated to the North Cascades, or shot on sight.

A TRIO OF MOUNTAIN GOATS CLING TO ROCKS ON THE RIDGE ABOVE THE ROAD TO HURRICANE RIDGE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

Federal and state wildlife managers today announced that they want to remove billies, nannies and kids to reduce damage in the heights of the peninsula’s Olympic National Park.

A final environmental impact statement released this week will undergo a final 30-day comment period before the decision is final.

If no last objections are raised, efforts will begin this summer to move as many of the Olympics’ 725 goats as possible to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, supplementing scattered herds there.

A LARGE HERD OF MOUNTAIN GOATS GATHERED ON THE FLANKS OF MT. BAKER, IN WASHINGTON’S NORTH CASCADES, IN 2016. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

Special permit hunting opportunities in the region have been declining over time.

“Federal and state agencies are poised to begin the effort that will help grow a depleted population of mountain goats in the Cascades; and eliminate their impact on the Olympic Peninsula,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum in a press release.

The alpine wanderers were apparently brought to the Olympics in the 1920s for hunting before the mountains became a national park. It was a time when critters were moved around to replenish animal herds diminished by overhunting and settlement, or to provide new opportunities.

But with the peninsula’s goat population forecast to hit 1,000 in several years unless nothing is done, and with the fatal goring of a hiker in 2010, the time to act to halt impacts to mountain vegetation appears to be now.

After two years of capture and translocation operations, lethal removals would begin, though animals in unapproachable areas could be killed after the first year, according to the EIS.

Federal, state and “skilled public volunteers” would be tasked with taking out the last goats with nontoxic ammo.

To view the plan, go to https://parkplanning.nps.gov/OLYMgoat.

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.

North Cascades Grizzly Restoration Planning To Push Ahead Again

UPDATED 1:07 p.m. Friday, March 23, 2018

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke told reporters this morning that the federal review of options to restore grizzlies in Washington’s North Cascades will push forward again.

THE NORTH CASCADES RISE OVER A SHARP TURN ON HIGHWAY 20. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Appearing at North Cascades National Park Complex headquarters in Sedro-Woolley, Zinke’s statements came after an apparent pause this past winter of the environmental review of four options for bringing the bears back to this mountainous country.

He said the process should wrap up this year — a Department of Interior press release says by late summer — and that he feels grizzlies can be returned to the recovery region.

“I’m in support of the great bear,” Zinke said in televised comments. “I’m also supportive of doing it right. This is not reintroduction of a rabbit. This is reintroduction of a grizzly, and when done right by professional management, the grizzly can return harmony to the ecosystem and the grizzly can be a great example of how we do it right. Doing it wrong can adversely affect visitor experience and it can also adversely our ability to manage the land.”

Bear advocates were pleased by the news, and it’s likely that local tribes are happy as well, as the Tulalips have supported restoration.

However, national, state cattlemen’s and public-lands ranching associations expressed disappointment.

The four options that the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put out for comment in January 2017 ranged from no action — allow them to return themselves from southern British Columbia — to expedited reintroduction and a goal of 200 animals between the Canadian border and Snoqualmie Pass.

Zinke said that, not to prejudge the outcome of the review, but “the winds are favorable.”

WDFW participated in coming up with the EIS, but doesn’t have a position on any, a spokesman said.

It’s probable that there are no actual grizzlies in the North Cascades at present, or only one or two.

The secretary appeared for about 12 minutes and spoke for nine of them. He also spoke about his push to reorganize federal natural resource agencies.

North Cascades Grizzly Planning ‘Indefinitely On Hold’; CNW ‘Extremely Disappointed’

Grizzly bears may not be returning to the North Cascades any time soon after all — at least through federal efforts.

Plans to restore the big bruins in the mountainous region of Washington are “indefinitely on hold” after national park service officials were “asked to stop work on its environmental impact statement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office.”

A MAP FROM FEDERAL AGENCIES SHOWS THE NORTH CASCADES ECOSYSTEM WHERE WILDLIFE OFFICIALS WERE MULLING RESTORING GRIZZLY BEAR POPULATIONS, A PLAN THAT REPORTEDLY HAS BEEN HALTED AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE US DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (NPS)

That’s according to reports by the Yakima Herald and The Missoulian in recent days.

The story was broken by the latter paper and it follows on a long-term push to consider restoring grizzlies in their former habitat.

The EIS, which went out last January for comment, garnered 127,000 responses from the public. Alternatives ranged from no action to fast-tracking the relocation of bears to build a self-sustaining population of 200 in the region north of I-90.

“When residents and stakeholders express opposition to proposals to reintroduce grizzly bears in the North Cascades Ecosystem, the federal government must listen,” Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-4), who represents the northeastern side of the region, recently told the Herald.

The news was not taken well by Conservation Northwest, which has strongly supported the effort.

“We are extremely disappointed that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump Administration are abandoning North Cascades grizzly bears, siding with the local extinction of this iconic native species over the strong majority of Washingtonians who support their recovery,” said Chase Gunnell, the Seattle-based organization’s communications director. “Equally frustrating is that the many years of science and public education and significant taxpayer dollars that have gone into grizzly bear recovery in our region are not being taken seriously by this administration.”

According to the reports, the move also “stalls discussions” with wildlife managers on the other side of the international border.

Grizzly populations in southern British Columbia are said to be in a contracting rather than expanding phase, making it reportedly less likely for them to roam into Washington on their own like wolves. This morning the provincial government banned hunting the bears, a “major policy shift.”

WDFW Tweaking North Cascades Elk Management Plan, Looking For Input

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is accepting public comments through Sept. 7 on a draft plan for future management of the North Cascades elk herd, the northernmost herd in Western Washington.

The draft plan for the herd, also known as the Nooksack herd, can be found on WDFW’s website at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01916/

NORTH CASCADES HERD BULL ELK. (WDFW)

In addition to the public comment period, state wildlife managers plan to hold a public meeting on Aug. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sedro-Woolley Community Center.

Written comments can be submitted online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RDCSVVM or mailed to North Cascades Elk Herd Plan, Wildlife Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, PO Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504.

The North Cascades elk herd is spread out over a large area of Skagit and Whatcom counties. Since the last herd management plan was adopted in 2002, the population of the herd – the smallest that WDFW manages – has rebounded from just a few hundred animals to more than 1,200 elk within the recent survey area.

But a growing elk population also comes with increased potential for elk/human interactions and conflicts. The new draft plan includes several strategies to address those concerns and other management issues.

Key goals of the proposed plan include:

Reducing elk/human conflicts, including minimizing elk damage on private property and elk-vehicle collisions along a stretch of State Route 20;

Offering sustainable hunting opportunities, including an increase of at least 100 square miles available for hunting on private and public lands;

Coordinating and cooperating with the Point Elliott Treaty Tribes on herd management and setting hunting seasons;

Increasing elk viewing and photography opportunities.

WDFW will consider comments received online, in writing, and during the public meeting in drafting the final version of the plan.