NOT JUST THE EARS, BUT THE WHOLE ENCHILADA: The North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone

The North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone encompasses millions of acres in Washington State, including established National Parks and Wilderness Areas, National and State Forest land, municipalities and towns, recreational facilities such as ski areas and campgrounds, and tens of thousands of acres of private property. The designation has serious long term impacts on natural resource and land management decisions in Washington State.


Please keep the following definition in mind as your review the rest of this article…




gerund or present participle: REWILDING

restore an area of land to its natural uncultivated state (used especially with reference to the reintroduction of species of wild animal- usually a large carnivore, that has been driven out or exterminated from a particular region).

 As a well informed, responsible, citizen, I felt obligated to submit my comment on the USFWS/NPS draft EIS.  The following comment was entered into the official record on 2/26/17 at 12:03 PM Mountain Time:
Designating millions of acres as a “North Cascade Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone”, whose outline includes numerous towns and tens of thousands of acres of private property, is yet another example of how the Endangered Species Act has been misused to promote range expansion for a non-endangered species.
FACT: Ursus arctos (the North American Brown or common “Grizzly” bear) is listed as a “Species of Least Concern” by the IUCN. The species, which includes all of it’s recognized sub-species, already enjoy one of the largest [most extensive] circum-polar ranges of any large terrestrial predator on earth, (second only to the Gray Wolf).
For the USFWS, NPS, or any State wildlife agency to determine the legal status of any species by comparing current range with estimated historic range or somebody’s idea of “desired” range, ignores factors such as real population levels, actual and perceived threats, projected future trends, the requirements of and impacts on other species, compatibility with human activity, human settlement, and human values.
Whereas, the original intent of the Endangered Species Act was to insure the survival of specific species that faced a serious threat of extinction, there is no basis for using the law as a tool to promote range expansion for any non-threatened species, let alone a species as impactful as the Grizzly/Brown Bear.
FACT: The “North Cascades Recovery Zone” in Washington State is NOT essential for insuring the long term survival of Ursus arctos.
Designating millions of acres as a “core reserve” for this large non-endangered predator will have profound impacts on all current and future land management decisions, especially pertaining to timber management, fire suppression, road construction, water diversion, livestock grazing, hunting, and recreational activities.
The designation [listing] of the Grizzly bear (and the Gray Wolf for that matter) as “threatened” or “endangered” makes a mockery out of the intent of the Endangered Species Act.
Finally, upon the de-listing of the species, Ursus arctos (including all sub-species), I urge that a well regulated hunting season be implemented to control Grizzly Bear population densities and help insure that human/bear conflicts and impacts on other wildlife species are mitigated.

Comment ID: 1090841-77025/1611
I based my comment on verifiable scientific and biological facts.  The USFWS map pictured below shows all of the core Grizzly Bear recovery areas (dark green), potential habitat (light green), and historic range/migration corridors (grey) that the USFWS, working in partnership with REWILDING proponents, claim are necessary to insure that Ursus arctos survives south of the 49th Parallel.  However, even the USFWS and the NPS readily admit that Grizzly Bear numbers are increasing and their range is already expanding south of the Canadian border without very many restrictions.

This IUCN map pictured below, shows the extensive circum-polar range (mustard color) of the “Grizzly” or “Brown Bear”,  (Ursus arctos).  Granted, the species has been extirpated or exterminated from some portions of their historic range, however, according to the IUCN,  the species is not even close to being threatened or endangered.


Non-endangered species such as the Grizzly Bear and the Gray Wolf are being used to control and restrict how our western lands are utilized.   In view of all the scientifically verifiable facts regarding the health of Ursus arctos as a species, the sufficiency of their current range, and actual population trends, there is no scientific rationale for expanding Grizzly Bear range into Washington State.

The public comment period on the draft EIS is open until March 14, 2017.  If you wish to leave a comment,  click here, or go to

3 thoughts on “NOT JUST THE EARS, BUT THE WHOLE ENCHILADA: The North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone

  1. Ruth

    Really appreciate this heads-up Steve. Hopefully, with informed people like yourself passing along this info more Washington State residents become aware and will oppose this absurd grizzly restoration plan. I know this isn’t the first time you’ve addressed this issue. Previous blog articles have been an eye-opener as you detailed ongoing issues relating to the increasing grey wolf population here in Washington. The maps really drive the point home when you live in our neck of the woods. I’m in the process of reading through the documents at the links you provided. Are you aware of any petitions being circulated regarding this? Thanks Steve

  2. Not aware of any petitions yet, but Washington State Law is pretty clear…

    RCW 77.12.035 (Washington STATE LAW)
    Protection of grizzly bears—Limitation on transplantation or introduction—Negotiations with federal and state agencies.

    The commission shall protect grizzly bears and develop management programs on publicly owned lands that will encourage the natural regeneration of grizzly bears in areas with suitable habitat.

    Grizzly bears shall not be transplanted or introduced into the state. Only grizzly bears that are native to Washington state may be utilized by the department for management programs.

    The department is directed to fully participate in all discussions and negotiations with federal and state agencies relating to grizzly bear management and shall fully communicate, support, and implement the policies of this section.


    But WA State law doesn’t mean much because we are talking about a FEDERAL plan that will be initiated on FEDERAL land. The states of Arizona and New Mexico have had no success to date in trying to prohibit the FEDERAL release of more “captive bred Mexican Gray Wolves” in those states. As of this writing, there is an ongoing battle raging between Arizona State and the FEDS.

    The USFWS North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery zone plan states that North Cascades grizzly population is “incapable of enduring without active recovery efforts, including possible augmentation with bears from other areas.”

    The “fast track” plan calls for 200 bears to be translocated in 20-25 years. It should be noted that, for many decades, an unknown number of “problem” bears have been translocated from our visitor saturated National Parks into remote areas of the Cabinet range and the Idaho Selkirks near the Washington state line. Descendants of those bears are “naturally” migrating into Washington State. Bears are also crossing the border from Canada. They are NOT ENDANGERED, and don’t need any help to repopulate the N. Cascades.

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