"Return Of The Grizzly?"

"Feds consider transplanting bears into Washington’s North Cascades."

"In the summer of 1993, Bill Gaines, a young wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Washington state, took a break from field work to climb in the Glacier Peaks Wilderness in the North Cascades. As he trekked through the remote, subalpine Napeequa Valley, Gaines spotted a furry face peering at him from behind a log some 40 feet away. It looked like a bear — cinnamon-colored, round face, small ears. But was that a shoulder hump? Gaines dropped his pack (“rather stupidly,” he recalls) and tried to get a closer look. But the creature spun around and disappeared.

“(That’s) the only time I’ve seen a bear in the Cascades where I could not say with certainty that it was a black bear,” says Gaines. Although five to 10 grizzlies supposedly roam the mountains of northwest Washington, Gaines has snagged more than 700 bear hair samples without finding a single one. But, that could change.

Following the listing of the Lower 48 grizzly population under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified the North Cascades and five other areas—Yellowstone, Selkirk, Cabinet-Yaak, Bitterroot and the Northern Continental Divide— as grizzly recovery zones. Since then, most zones have seen steady bear population growth thanks to strong state and federal management and financial investment in recovery initiatives. In 1997, a recovery plan was developed for the North Cascades zone, and 10 years later, the Washington Legislature appropriated funding for an environmental analysis of grizzly restoration. But state and federal agencies were unable to begin work quickly, and when the recession hit the following year, the state withdrew funding for the project. The recovery plan languished, and the North Cascades grizzly seemed destined to disappear completely."

Gloria Dickie reports for High Country News February 21, 2017.

Source: High Country News, 02/22/2017