ADVERTISEMENT

This photo provided by Washington State University shows 9-year-old Kio using a plastic box as a foot stool at WSU's Bear Research Education and Conservation Center in Pullman, Wash., Aug. 14, 2014.

Linda Weiford, Associated Press - Ap

Washington state wants its grizzlies back

  • Article by: Sandi Doughton
  • Seattle Times
  • August 21, 2014 - 11:33 PM

– Nearly 40 years after grizzly bears were declared threatened in the Lower 48 states, long-stalled efforts to bring the species back to Washington’s North Cascades are rolling again.

The federal government announced Thursday that it will launch an environmental analysis this fall to evaluate strategies to boost bear numbers. The most controversial option is the possibility of transplanting grizzlies from healthy populations elsewhere.

“This is huge news for the Pacific Northwest and for grizzly bears,” said Joe Scott of Conservation Northwest, which has been pushing to restore grizzlies for 25 years. “This is the turning point.”

Chris Morgan, founder of the Grizzly Bear Outreach Program, said he had tears in his eyes when he heard the news. “These animals have always lived in the North Cascades, and I think they deserve an opportunity to persist and thrive there,” he said.

But not everyone is thrilled about sharing the woods with creatures that can weigh 500 pounds, run as fast as a racehorse and wield huge teeth and claws.

“Grizzly bears are incredible, wonderful animals,” said Tom Davis of the Washington Farm Bureau. “I just wouldn’t want them living next door to me, and I think that’s how farmers and ranchers feel.”

The three-year analysis will determine the best approach to restoring grizzlies, and will involve extensive public debate.

© 2014 Star Tribune