Elk NetworkCiting Science, RMEF Opposes Feds’ Decision to Restore Grizzlies to Northern Cascades

General | April 26, 2024

The National Parks Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced it will place grizzly bears in the Northern Cascades in Washington. According to its joint record of decision, “the agencies will restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem (NCE) through the translocation of grizzly bears from other ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains or interior British Columbia.”

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation previously urged the USFWS to wait on such plans until it made a related ruling. In February 2023, USFWS initiated a comprehensive status review of the grizzly bear in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem based on the best available science to inform a 12-month finding. If those findings result in proposing one or more distinct population segments for delisting, it will change the context of the ongoing recovery for the rest of the population in the larger listed entity, including the NCDE.

“RMEF has long advocated for state management of grizzly bears, which is in line with RMEF’s support of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, under which state management of wildlife along with the financial contributions from hunters has dramatically increased wildlife populations across the U.S. in the last 100 years. RMEF supports removal of grizzly bears from the ESA list, transferring its management to state wildlife agencies,” wrote Karie Decker, RMEF director of wildlife and habitat. 

As part of the April 2024 decision, North Cascades’ grizzlies will receive a nonessential experimental population designation under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act, meaning authorities and land managers will have additional tools for management not otherwise be available under standard Endangered Species Act regulations. USFWS will publish a final 10(j) rule in the Federal Register. RMEF will review the details of the final rule when that happens.

The U.S. Department of Interior held a series of public meetings in 2020 and decided against placing grizzlies in the Northern Cascades. Several months later, an environmental extremist group, the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a lawsuit looking to forcibly introduce grizzlies.

(Photo credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)