Help the threatened grizzly bear thrive again in its native Pacific Northwest home.
NPCA is committed to aiding grizzly bear recovery in Washington’s North Cascades National Park. Our national parks are priceless treasures that offer visitors ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing, and these parks also provide wildlife with space they need to live. Sadly, there have been no verified grizzly bear sightings in Washington’s North Cascades in several years, despite the excellent habitat in and around the park.
Grizzlies used to be numerous throughout this region. However, more than a century of grizzly hunting and trapping decimated the local grizzly population, culminating in the last legal kill of a bear in 1967. The next year, North Cascades National Park was created and efforts to protect grizzly bears began, but the grizzly bears never recovered. Today, scientists estimate that fewer than five grizzly bears may remain in Washington’s North Cascades, and only a few are known to live just north in British Columbia, Canada. To restore the grizzly bear, we must take an active role in aiding recovery of this magnificent animal to its native lands.
Fortunately, we know how to save these charismatic animals from extinction, and successful recovery efforts are already taking place elsewhere in places like Montana. The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can use experience from other states to inform grizzly bear recovery in Washington’s North Cascades.
Successful restoration of North Cascades’ grizzly bears would be a historic victory for the health and sustainability of the entire region, its wildlife and its visitors.
The grizzly bear is the cornerstone of the North Cascades Ecosystem.
With the recovery of a healthy grizzly bear population, the North Cascades ecosystem would again be home to all its major native carnivores, an opportunity remaining for few places in the world. Not only would a healthy grizzly bear population help to restore the natural environment of the North Cascades, but the species is also culturally important to many Native American tribes and Canadian First Nations in the region.
The North Cascades Ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest, anchored by North Cascades National Park, is the only remaining grizzly bear habitat on the West Coast of the contiguous United States. But while grizzlies have lived in the North Cascades for approximately 20,000 years, today the North Cascades grizzly is the most at-risk bear population in North America.
The National Park Service has identified the North Cascades as one of the most rugged mountain ranges in the country. The region remains one of North America’s premier intact ecosystems — but it has been diminished by the decline of the grizzly. Grizzly bears strengthen the health of their habitat, aerating the soil in meadows where they dig, and distributing plant seeds across the forest in their scat. Without a healthy grizzly bear population, the ecosystem of the North Cascades loses these advantages.
The North Cascades Ecosystem is ready to host a healthy grizzly bear population once again. In 1997, federal scientists determined that the habitat of the North Cascades ecosystem could support a sizeable grizzly population, and designated a 9,565-square-mile North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone that has the park at its core. The recovery zone is enormous — nearly the size of Massachusetts!
Washington state supports grizzly bear recovery.
A strong majority of Washington state voters also support efforts to restore grizzly bears in the North Cascades, including 89 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of Republicans, and 74 percent of Independents, according to a May 2016 poll (PDF) conducted by Tulchin Research.
NPCA is a founding partner of the Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear Coalition, an independent partnership supporting grizzly bear restoration. Since the organization’s launch in May 2016, more than two dozen organizations, businesses and tribes and 2,000 individuals have signed on as Friends of the North Cascades Grizzly Bear.
What is the status of the recovery efforts, and how can I get involved?
In January 2017, the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies released several draft options to restore the grizzly bear population of the North Cascades Ecosystem. 126,000 members of the public submitted comments as part of this process, and the vast majority of these comments supported grizzly restoration. In 2019, the agencies announced an additional comment opportunity that netted about 20,000 additional comments. Sadly, in July of 2020, the Trump Administration announced that they would terminate the grizzly bear recovery process. However, the cancellation of the EIS did not result in an issuance of a Record of Decision, and so hope for grizzly recovery in the North Cascades persists, especially with the Biden Administration. NPCA continues to push for a final decision that would bring the bears back into the North Cascades and ensure careful management of the great bear.
Meanwhile, you can show your support for grizzly bear restoration by adding your name, business or organization to our growing list of “friends of the grizzly.” By joining our friends team, you will receive updates on campaign progress, volunteer opportunities, and tools to advocate for the recovery of the species. You will join a growing list of supporters who are dedicated to the recovery of grizzly bears and the health of our national parks. Help spread the word about how important this species is for the health of North Cascades National Park and the greater North Cascades Ecosystem.
North Cascades grizzly bear restoration depends upon the support of local communities and businesses, outdoor lovers, Native American nations, faith leaders, local champions and people like you.
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