Central Washington has (already) spoken: Grizzly bears are a threat

Virtual meeting Dec. 1, 2

For decades, Central Washingtonians have had to fight to make our voices heard over the noise of outside interest groups and government bureaucrats who think they know what is best for our communities. Unfortunately, last week’s decision by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reopen discussions on introducing grizzly bears, an apex predator, into the North Cascades Ecosystem proves that, once again, our voices are being ignored.

The debate over grizzly bear introduction in Washington state is nothing new. In 1995, Washington lawmakers mandated by law that grizzly bears “shall not be transplanted or introduced into the state.” Since then, the federal government has made multiple attempts to bypass our state’s law and illegally introduce the apex predator into the North Cascades Ecosystem. Our public lands, including the North Cascades National Park, are critical to our region—for species conservation, enjoyment and recreation, and for our water supply and agriculture industry. The introduction of grizzly bears would upset our ecosystem and cause undue hardships on agriculture producers, businesses, and families. This is the message I have heard and echoed, time and again, from the rural communities across our district.

I’m proud to have worked with officials in the past two Administrations to convey this message. In 2020, after hundreds of residents spoke out against this proposal, the Department of Interior came to the conclusion that the introduction of grizzly was not necessary for species recovery, and the proposal would not be pursued any further. Unfortunately, they seem to have changed their minds.

Once again, federal bureaucrats are signaling to the men and women who live and work in North Central Washington that they know what’s best for them—placing 800-pound apex predators at their doorsteps. For local residents who will certainly be most affected by this plan, it is critical to speak out. The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are hosting a series of four virtual public meetings to discuss grizzly bear restoration during the Public Scoping period, which runs from November 10-December 14. Virtual public meetings Thursday, December 1 at  12 p.m. PST, and Friday, December 2 at 7 p.m. PST. Additional details and information are available at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/NCEGrizzly.

It is not difficult to see why urban-dwellers hundreds of miles away from grizzly bear habitats would be enthusiastic to see increasing their population as an exciting development—grizzly bears are, after all, impressive creatures. Ultimately, Central Washington residents are the ones being asked to live with these bears, and their input should carry the most weight when it comes to introducing grizzlies into their backyards. I strongly encourage the people of Central Washington to attend the virtual meetings in order to voice their opinion and put this misguided proposal to rest, once and for all.

 

 

 

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