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Feds announce plans to reintroduce grizzlies to the Cascades

A grizzly bear coming out of the cylindrical container used to capture and transport bears. The bear was moved to the Cabinet Mountains in July of 2019 as part of an ongoing effort to recover the area’s population.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Two grizzly bears were moved to northwest Montana’s Cabinet Mountains in July 2019 as part of an ongoing effort to recover the area’s population.

Federal agencies announced plans today to reintroduce grizzly bears into the northern Cascade Mountains in Washington that could come from northwest Montana.

There are no known grizzly populations currently living in the Cascades, which is part of the species’ historical range.

The U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service will open a 30-day public comment period starting Monday on the potential plan to reintroduce grizzly bears into the region.

The agencies say that there are several options, including releasing three to seven bears per year in the Northern Cascade Ecosystem to establish an initial population of 25 bears. The plan calls for bears to come from British Columbia or the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem in and around Glacier National Park.

A similar plan was withdrawn two years ago following opposition from farmers and ranchers.

At their peak, grizzly bears numbered more than 50,000 in the Lower 48. They roamed from the West Coast to the Great Plains, from northern Alaska to…

Aaron Bolton is Montana Public Radio's Flathead Valley reporter.