According to The Center Square, supporters of reintroducing grizzly bears into the North Cascades will eventually help the ecosystem. Opponents say it's just a matter of time before they find their way to livestock or people.

   Authorities reveal plan for bear reintroduction

According to The Center Square:

"To restore the bears to the North Cascades, the federal agencies will undergo a translocation process that will bring in grizzlies from other ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains or interior British Columbia, according to a spokesman for the National Park Service who spoke Monday with The Center Square."

A total of 25 bears will be released into the remote forest areas over the next 5 to 10 years, say officials. Supporters claim the grizzlies used to live there but were killed off by humans. They claim the ecosystem will support them.

However, none of these supporters, or very few, have offered specific ecological data showing how reintroducing the grizzlies will benefit the ecosystem.

Opponents say environmentalists' arguments that humans and livestock have survived in the area with black bears for years is misleading.  Although black bears do prey on some livestock, they usually only go after younger smaller animals, and it is not common.

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Grizzlies, on the other hand, are considered far more aggressive and dangerous. They, along with polar bears, account for the vast majority of human deaths. They are also not shy about taking down larger livestock or any other animal in their way.

Rachel McClure, who is with the Okanogan County Cattlemen's Association, told The Center Square:

“It doesn’t matter what we say, they’re just going to do what they want to do anyway, . “Many of the locals don’t believe there is habitat up there for them to begin with, meaning they’ll put bears up there and they’ll starve to death.”

She says the grizzlies will go to where the food is (livestock etc) and she and others fear it will take a human fatality due to a grizzly to get the attention of the pro-introduction supporters.

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The last documented sighting of a grizzly in the North Cascades area was 28 years ago. Opponents say the ecosystem has changed significantly, and the current black bears have 'learned' from experience what areas they are safe or welcome, and where they are not.  That does not, and will not apply to the grizzlies, at least for some time.

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Gallery Credit: Dom DiFurio & Jacob Osborn


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