Rep. Dan Newhouse Slams Possible Grizzly Bear Reintroduction to the North Cascades
Rep. Dan Newhouse expressed his disappointment with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s second attempt at reintroducing grizzly bears back into the North Cascades ecosystem.
In 2017-18, Newhouse wrote multiple letters to both North Cascades National Park Service Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke his opposition to this reintroduction plan.
In 2020, the U.S. Department of the Interior ultimately shot down an EIS that explored how to restore the North Cascades grizzly bear population.
Yet, on Nov. 14, the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued another Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), presenting alternative strategies to transport grizzly bears to the North Cascades National Park.
Newhouse states that reintroducing grizzly bears was going directly against the wishes of his Okanogan County constituents.
“The people of North Central Washington made it very, very clear, they do not want this, and to me that is a very important point that the agency should be taking into consideration,” Newhouse said. “We had a public meeting in Okanogan County, where I think there [were] 600-700 people that came to express their views and [the] vast majority of which were clear that they oppose the introduction of grizzly bears and so on. I think it's unfortunate that memories are short in federal agencies, and they continue to try to move their agenda against the will of the people who will be most directly impacted.”
Newhouse referenced a state law from 1995, that prohibited transporting grizzly bears from out-of-state. However, there are currently less than ten grizzly bears residing in the North Cascades.
Grizzly bears currently sit on the endangered species list due to humans over-hunting the bear population to near extinction.
Wildlife Ecologist for North Cascade National Park, Jason Ransom, said that reintroducing this bear species would help revitalize and restore the North cascades habitat.
“As ecosystems change through time, having more species means that ecosystem has a better chance of actually surviving change, because you've got more pieces to the puzzle,” Ransom said. “Things like climate change, where you have some species that have a hard time and some species that do really well, if you have more species, the more likely that the core of that is going to stay functional. That's one of the keys to restoring the species that people took out.”
There are multiple virtual meetings scheduled between Nov. 10 to Dec. 14, which can be accessed here.