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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

We should all give "4 stars" and cheer Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's recent decision to re-start the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan for the Northern Cascades in Washington State..........While historically, Grizzly Bears were a top trophic canivore in the Northern Cascades Ecosystem, killing of the bears by trappers, miners, and bounty hunters during the 19th century removed most of the population by 1860"...................."Hudson Bay Company trapping records show that 3,788 grizzly bear hides were shipped from trading posts in the North Cascades area between 1827 and 1859"(over 118 annually over this 32 year span)".................."In his study of the early historical record in the area around North Cascades National Park, researcher Paul Sullivan quoted early reports from actual sightings".........."The most hides traded in any one year at Thompson’s River, British Columbia, Canada was 11 in 1851"........... "Apparently 4 hides turned up at Fort Nisqually near present Tacoma over a period of years"........…. "Sullivan found that much higher numbers of hides came in to the post at Fort Colville, in eastern Washington".................…. "The peak year in the Grizzly hide trade there was 1849 when 383 hides came through"…............. "Fort Nez Pierce, near present Walla Walla had its peak year in the Grizzly hide trade in 1846 when 32 hides came through"…........ "The decimation of the bears continued for more than a century with the last Grizzly killed in Fisher Creek (in what is now North Cascades National Park) in 1967"............ "Despite the bears being legally protected since 1969, there has not been a convincing verified photo of them appearing in the Washington State portion of the Cascades over the last 16 years" .................."However, just 15 miles north of the border between Washington and Canada(photo (below) , a North Cascades Grizzly Bear was captured in Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia".......... "This is just a mere 2 to 3 hour walk for the bear from Washington State"..............If Bears are re-introduced into Washington, there is an excellent chance for a genetic diversity to occur between the UA and Canadian populations, thus increasing the chances that USA re-introduced bears will hava an optimum chance for long term persistence" .......... ..The draft Environmental Impact Statement presents four options for pursuing grizzly bear recovery: a "no-action" alternative (maintaining the status quo), and three "action" alternatives for achieving the ultimate goal of restoring "a self-sustaining population of at least 200 bears" over the next 25 to 100 years".............. "The estimated speed of recovery will depend on the option selected


Grizzlies Back on Track in the

 North Cascades

Ryan Zinke revives grizzly

 bear recovery plan in Washington

 Hats off to Zinke and the horse he rode in on. 
The secretary apparently holds a special place in
 his heart for grizzly bears.

A rare grizzly photographed in the Canadian
 portion of the North
 Cascades Ecosystem---Photo by John Ashley-Price

"I grew up on the flanks of Glacier National Park, so I've dealt with the grizzly bear all my life," Zinke told a small group of agency personnel and conservationists gathered at North Cascades National Park headquarters in Sedro Wooley, Washington, on March 23. He went on to say that he has directed his staff to accelerate the recovery planning process for grizzlies in the North Cascades — which his agency reportedly halted last December. "I'm in support of the great bear. I'm also in support of doing it right," Zinke said, adding pointedly that we're not talking about the "reintroduction of a rabbit."
 The last documented kill of a North Cascades grizzly occurring in 1967. Although a few grizzlies have been sighted here since, there hasn't been an officially confirmed sighting in more than two decades.
The North Cascades Ecosystem remains one of the wildest places in the Lower 48, with 6.1 million acres of mostly public lands connected to additional wildlands in British Columbia. Grizzly bears are also very rare in the Canadian portion of the ecosystem, which is geographically isolated from healthy grizzly populations elsewhere.

Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia, 2010
Just 15 miles north of the border between Washington and Canada this photo (below) of a North Cascades Grizzly Bear was captured in Manning Provincial Park. This is just a mere 2 to 3 hour walk for the bear from Washington State, making it the closest confirmed sighting of a North Cascades Grizzly Bear in years.

"It's very obvious to us that grizzly bears in the North Cascades are going to disappear without some concrete actions to protect and restore the population. It's also obvious to us that there's only one way of doing that," says Joe Scott, international programs director for Conservation Northwest. Scott has spent a large part of his career advocating for the reintroduction of grizzlies to the North Cascades Ecosystem.
Grizzly bear recovery finally got legs in 2014, when the FWS and the National Park Service announced a joint three-year process to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the North Cascades grizzly. The draft EIS, published in January 2017, drew 126,000 public comments from around the state — most of them positive, according to agency staff. Indeed, surveys have shown that the majority of Washingtonians support grizzly recovery, although personal safety is a concern for some. As Zinke put it: "The great people of Washington have not hiked around grizzlies before, and so there's going to be a learning curve of what to do and what not to do."
Jack Oelfke, Chief of Natural and Cultural Resources at North Cascades National Park and park lead for grizzly bear recovery, highlights the importance of working with people in the region to make sure everyone is heard. "If the final decision involves moving bears in, we need to work with the ranching community and recreational groups and small communities on the edges of and within the ecosystem so that we ensure that we're addressing their potential concerns."


Nonetheless, Oelfke is confident that grizzlies can coexist safely with humans — he's lived and worked among them himself in the past — and feels we have a moral obligation to make sure they don't disappear from the North Cascades. "This is a great opportunity for a major conservation success. We hope, we think, we've got the window now to proceed to get it done," he says.
The draft EIS presents four options for pursuing grizzly bear recovery: a "no-action" alternative (maintaining the status quo), and three "action" alternatives for achieving the ultimate goal of restoring "a self-sustaining population of at least 200 bears" over the next 25 to 100 years. The estimated speed of recovery will depend on the option selected.
No one is sure why Zinke hit the pause button on the EIS in December, but Oelfke says it's not unusual for a new administration to evaluate what any given agency is doing. "When they became aware of this EIS for a high-profile, charismatic species, their reaction was initially to say, 'wait a minute.' Of course, that 'wait a minute' kind of dragged on, but then we finally had the chance to do a briefing for them — which they eventually requested, to their credit. The briefing played a pivotal role…in their recognizing the value of this project."
Now that the EIS process is back on track, Oelfke and his colleagues will begin the arduous task of analyzing and responding to public comments in order to finalize the EIS. After the Final EIS is published, the FWS will release a Record of Decision, which Zinke expects to be completed by the end of the year.
Scott and other grizzly supporters are cautiously optimistic that, in the not-too-distant future, grizzlies will roam free again in the North Cascades. "The fact that Secretary Zinke emphatically endorsed the effort, the concept, and the process is a very hopeful sign to us that we'll finally accomplish this thing that we've been trying to do for 30 years now," he says.
Paula MacKay
Paula MacKay is a freelance writer/editor, field biologist,
 and communications consultant for conservation. For
 the past two decades, she has studied wild predators
with her husband, Dr. Robert Long. Paula served as
managing editor for Noninvasive Survey Methods for
 Carnivores, and earned an MFA in creative writing
 from Pacific Lutheran University in 2015. She has
 written for numerous nonprofits, books, journals,
and magazines — including Wild Hope, Washington
Trails, The Bark, E Magazine, Wild Earth, and Wildlife
 Conservation. MacKay currently manages Wildlands
 Network’s blog Trusting Wildness, and is writing a
conservation memoir about searching for wolverines
 and grizzly bears in the North Cascades.

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