Biden Administration Moves on with Plan for Grizzly Bear Release Despite Pushback

Biden Administration Moves on with Plan for Grizzly Bear Release Despite Pushback

We told you last fall about a Biden Administration plan to release grizzly bears, an apex predator, in some rural areas of Washington state. As the plan comes closer to becoming a reality, many farmers and ranchers in the area that would be affected by the releases are crying foul, saying such a move could pose a serious danger to families who live there.

Many have opposed the plan from the beginning and were hopeful that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Park Service (NPS) might reconsider the proposal. However, last week both agencies published an environmental impact statement listing the translocation of grizzly bears from other ecosystems with an “experimental population designation” as their ideal management strategy.

“Designation of grizzly bears released into the U.S. portion of the [North Cascades Ecosystem] as a [nonessential experimental population] would provide authorized agencies with greater management flexibility should conflict situations arise,” the agencies wrote. “Any management actions would be consistent with the overall goal of establishing and conserving the NEP [nonessential experimental population] while promoting social tolerance and human safety.

Many in the area, however, are still pushing to have the plan derailed, including county commissioners in the area where the releases would occur.

“We have previously provided extensive comments opposing grizzly bear reintroduction into our local communities,” Chelan County commissioners wrote to the NPS concerning the plan. “We continue to oppose grizzly bear reintroduction given the likely negative impacts to public safety, economic development, recreation opportunities and the overall livelihood of our rural communities. 

“The federal agencies leading this effort have generally failed to address these concerns and have failed to engage in any meaningful way Chelan County and other neighboring counties in the proposed grizzly bear restoration area.”

News of the filing of the environmental impact statement, which signified the plan was moving forward, also drew the ire of local ranchers.

“There’s a real danger of our livestock …of the people that are working and living in this area that they’re going to bring the bears into,” Neil Kayser, rancher and Washington Cattleman’s Association member, said recently on “The Ingraham Angle.” “It’s a real threat and danger to our families.”

“I'm not a wildlife biologist, but I also believe that anything that gets hungry is going to eat something. And if there’s no wildlife there to eat, it's going to be the livestock, it’s going to be the pets, the dogs and cats. It’s going to harass the people that are hiking and walking in this area, that vacation there. It does not need to be done by a federal bureaucrat, it needs to be done by the Washington State [Department of] Fish and Wildlife and the local communities.”

As we mentioned last fall, Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, a longtime Washington resident, has been very vocal about his and others’ opposition to the grizzly release plan.

“As a farmer, I worry not only about the bears destroying my crops, but for the safety and well-being of myself, my family and my own farmhands,” he told federal officials at a public comment session. “It is clear you all know that grizzlies can and probably will move out of the zone in which you drop them in, yet rather than letting common sense prevail, you are continuing to push forward with this dangerous plan.”

The plan calls for eventually establishing a population of about 200 grizzlies in the area over the next several years.

About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and bird dog field-trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for almost 25 years.