Public comment has opened on a federal plan to restore grizzly bears to Washington’s North Cascades, and the National Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service are taking input on three alternatives.
Let Ursus arctos horribilis reintroduce itself to the recovery zone, which extends from the Canadian border to Snoqualmie Pass, or release three to seven bears a year for five to 10 years within existing ESA protections or as a nonessential experimental population, the latter being the feds’ preferred option.
Termed the 10(j) designation, it would allow for “greater management flexibility should conflicts arise” with the population. At least 10 communities and many people living in between fall into what’s known as the North Cascades Ecosystem, which nationalwildlife managers are looking to repopulate with grizzlies.
Comment on the overall draft environmental impact statement is open through 11 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on November 13.
USFWS is also taking comment on that proposed 10(j) listing, which “would provide local communities more flexibility to manage the grizzly bear population with additional wildlife management tools.”