The Biden administration has once again made a poorly-considered decision. This time, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Park Service are planning to reintroduce grizzly bears into the North Cascades National Park in northern Washington, and Republicans representing the area are pushing back.
A group of Republicans is calling on the Biden administration for more time to be given to the public to express their concerns about a proposal that would release grizzly populations in an area managed by the federal government in northern Washington.
In a letter sent Friday, six GOP members, led by Dan Newhouse (R-Washington), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, asked the Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams and the National Park Service Director Charles Sams to extend the period for public comments on the proposal from 90 days to 180. The six GOP lawmakers also asked the agencies to host additional meetings in person with community members who would be affected by the proposal.
Newhouse, in a press release, said that northern Washingtonians had repeatedly expressed their concern about the introduction of the grizzlies to the North Cascades. They are a threat to the safety and security of their communities.
This issue is a mess.
The internet is full of funny memes that portray grizzlies as fluffy, big animals. A full-grown male, inland grizzly (like you might have seen in the Cascades 100 years ago), can weigh up to about 650 pounds. The big coastal browns, the same species, but living in a different environment, weigh around half that amount. The bears are adaptable and intelligent. They spend their summers eating anything to gain weight for the winter. They are also known for their “unfavorable interactions between humans and bears.” These are not wild animals that can adapt to human life. They are creatures of nature and should be kept in the wilderness.
Cascades also has other factors to consider.
The commissioners of Chelan County, Washington (located near North Cascades) wrote the NPS late in 2022, “We have provided extensive comments against grizzly bear introduction into our local community.” We continue to oppose the grizzly reintroduction due to the negative impact on public safety, the economy, recreation, and the overall well-being of rural communities.
In their letter, they said that “the federal agencies leading this initiative have generally failed in addressing these concerns and have not engaged in any meaningful manner Chelan County and the other neighboring counties within the proposed grizzly restoration area.”
The Washington Cattlemen’s Association as well as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Public Lands Council are also against reintroducing the grizzly to the area due to its potential impact on cattle.
The Biden administration should probably pawn off this project. But, as so often happens, it seems that people in cities located thousands of miles from the region in question are making the decisions. The Biden administration needs to reconsider this project. If they do not, then the members of Congress who represent this area should try to get it back.
Even fat grizzlies are best observed at a distance. Pandemonium could result.
This seems appropriate.