We welcome Secretary Zinke’s announcement that Federal Agencies are re-engaging in an open and transparent review process for the North Cascade Grizzly Bear Environmental Impact Statement. Washingtonians overwhelmingly support efforts to recover grizzly bears in the North Cascades. Grizzlies are an icon of the West, and they belong in the wild and rugged wilderness of the Cascades. We have been involved in this process from the beginning and hope it will result in the full recovery of grizzly bears.

Defenders of Wildlife has a proud history of supporting local communities living alongside grizzly populations. We remain committed to working with hikers, farmers, ranchers, and residents to ensure they have the tools they need to share the landscape with grizzlies.
Robb Krehbiel, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife
SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash.,
23
March
2018
|
08:05 PM
America/New_York

For Immediate Release

Secretary Zinke Restarts North Cascade Grizzly Bear EIS

Secretary Zinke restarted the North Cascade Grizzly Bear Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process today. The process, which analyzed various options to recover this extremely small population of bears, was paused following the 2016 Presidential Election. Restarting the process allows agencies to review the more than 125,000 public comments received for this EIS. Secretary Zinke noted that a record of decision would be reached by the end of 2018.

Robb Krehbiel, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:

“We welcome Secretary Zinke’s announcement that Federal Agencies are re-engaging in an open and transparent review process for the North Cascade Grizzly Bear Environmental Impact Statement. Washingtonians overwhelmingly support efforts to recover grizzly bears in the North Cascades. Grizzlies are an icon of the West, and they belong in the wild and rugged wilderness of the Cascades. We have been involved in this process from the beginning and hope it will result in the full recovery of grizzly bears.

"Defenders of Wildlife has a proud history of supporting local communities living alongside grizzly populations. We remain committed to working with hikers, farmers, ranchers, and residents to ensure they have the tools they need to share the landscape with grizzlies.”

Background:

After the public comment period for the draft EIS ended on April 28, 2017, the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the two lead agencies for this project) sorted more than 125,000 comments from the public into general categories based on their preferences and recommendations. After that, they paused progress on the EIS. The next stage will be for the agency to review the public comments.

A final decision was due at the end of 2017. The pause delayed that final decision.

There were four alternatives under consideration in the draft EIS. Defenders of Wildlife recommended the agencies adopted a modified version of Alternative C, the “Incremental Restoration” plan. Generally, this alternative as-is would bring 5 to 7 bears to North Cascades annually over 5 to 10 years, with the goal of establishing a founding population of 25 bears. We recommended establishing clear monitoring protocols, allowing for adaptive management, and setting recovery goals regarding mortality rates and habitat.

There are fewer than 10 known grizzly bears left in the North Cascades. This is considered the most endangered population of grizzly bears in the United States. Isolated from other grizzly bear populations, the North Cascades population has struggled to naturally recover after years of unregulated hunting. Scientists have stated that the only way to recover this extremely small population is through augmentation.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.