Comments favoring North Cascade grizzly reintroduction far outweigh the antis.

Five to one in favor comments were not well publicized-

This month the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a detailed report on the recent comments the public made on the proposal to restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades in Washington State. The report goes on at great length, but it fails to highlight that those who want the great bear restored strongly dominated the opposition — 1,474 in favor to 285 opposed.  It is there, but the reader has to dig.  The public comment analysis document is available in PDF format.

About half the state news media did mention that those who made the effort to comment favored the bears, but few pointed out the disparity. Examples of pro and con comments were usually displayed in the news story in about equal numbers.  It can be argued the media do not want to portray this as anything but a sharp division in public opinion.






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  1. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    those who want the great bear restored strongly dominated the opposition — 1,474 in favor to 285 opposed.

    That is huge. It would be a wonderful thing to bring them back to their former ranges, and I’m glad so many people agree.

  2. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    Having worked for the feds this is not surprising that the report did not publicize the number in favor vs opposed. That is the job of the media and of course the media that wants to sensationalize the news will not bring out the facts the comments were overwhemlingly in favor of restoration. The facts of the report will speak at some point so this is very good news for the great bear and for the Pacific Northwest.

    Thanks for posting Ralph.

  3. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    Fair and equal only represents the two view points, not the great disparity, as with climate change as presented ~ 97% yep: 3% nope.

  4. WM Avatar

    Regardless of “public opinion” by those who made comments, many from outside WA, there is this little matter underscoring no transplants straight from the WA Legislature. How does one count a position which is reflected as official state policy for roughly 7 million WA residents?

    RCW 77.12.035

    Protection of grizzly bears — Limitation on transplantation or introduction — Negotiations with federal and state agencies.

    The commission shall protect grizzly bears and develop management programs on publicly owned lands that will encourage the natural regeneration of grizzly bears in areas with suitable habitat. Grizzly bears shall not be transplanted or introduced into the state. Only grizzly bears that are native to Washington state may be utilized by the department for management programs. The department is directed to fully participate in all discussions and negotiations with federal and state agencies relating to grizzly bear management and shall fully communicate, support, and implement the policies of this section.

    1. Professor Sweat Avatar
      Professor Sweat

      It’s highly unlikely, but that still leaves the option of moving bears from the Washington portion of the Selkirks. I’m not sure if there are enough grizzlies there right now to absorb the removal of some individuals without stunting the growth of the overall population, but theoretically the avenue would exist.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      WM and Professor Sweat,

      Ideally I’d like to see the federal government run over the WA Legislature. The federal government has complete and final say over wildlife on federal land, if they choose to use their authority.

      Doubtful the feds will do it, however, and Professor Sweat has the right idea, I think.

      A way to maximize the Selkirk population for restoration is to trap a female grizzly and impregnate her with the semen from a Washington State grizzly male in a zoo.

      I suggest zoo instead of the Selkirks because the zoo bear will likely provide more genetic diversity than a wild bear from NE Washington.

      1. WM Avatar

        Just a side note Ralph. I think the federal government has tried to run over state legislatures (and state judicial systems for that matter) quite a bit in the past, and with ever less success IMHO (some of this even involves liberal/D views of how out of touch the federal government is. You can see that with the state marijuana law surge, defiance of federal views on gay marriage (until the SCOTUS decision), and a bunch of other stuff. And, that is one of the problems that has been a catalyst and rallying point for the tea party or right and even middle of the road R types. The last thing most of us would want are states like WA and OR to join the crowd further to the right. Eastern WA is already on the threshold. Cramming wolves or bears down their throat, along with lax immigration policy, water and air standards that were mostly designed by federal bureaucrats for urban or Eastern problems won’t win hearts or minds. Pushing for grizzlies in the North Cascades won’t be the “last straw” but it won’t help things east of the Cascade Crest.

        Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside), 4th Congressional District, was a sponsor of one of the wolf removal from the ESA bills earlier this year. Part of the N. Cascades Park/wilderness complex is in his district. I am guessing many of his ag constituents are not too fond of the thought of grizzly bears moving too far out of the North Cascades if some kind of program to boost population is tried.

        1. WM Avatar

          Newhouse, behind closed doors, might just be a more dipolomatic light version of “Doc Hastings” whose seat he took when the latter retired.

        2. Gary Humbard Avatar
          Gary Humbard

          WM, gray wolves were re-introduced to Idaho and Wyoming even though those states US Senators and the majority of congressman strongly objected. Organizations like cattlemen associations and wool growers are always going to object to having predators around, but as in the case of wolves, I would assume if grizzlies were re-introduced (crammed down their throats) they would also be given the “experimental non essential population” designation. Rural areas will always be predominately politically leaning republican and urban areas conversely democratic and re-introducing a native species that poses a minimal threat to ag lands should not be a decision killer.

          Also correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the NCE is a fairly large “intact” landscape with minimal development and this is one of the key factors why the USFWS is pursuing their re-introcution.

          Ultimately wolves were returned due to strong national public support and leadership from the NPS, USFWS and the Interior and the bears return will probably be decided likewise.

        3. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan


          You are probably right about the reaction. My irritation with these people grows and grows, but for now they are ascendent.

          Part of the problem is that member of Congress on the other side don’t see this as a big issue and they won’t oppose him. We need to somehow change their mind. It is too bad I am not a billionaire. That, more and more, is the way.

  5. Louise Kane Avatar

    sounds like the comments and public opinion on protecting wolves, public opinion shows great support for protecting wolves with continued federal ESA protections but that does not stop the USFWS from their march toward desliting and the dereliction of duty concerning red and mexican wolves.

  6. Nancy Avatar

    Dated but an interesting read. Satire? or what folks, seldom exposed to wilderness areas, might view as an approach to wildlife management?

    “I am therefore inclined to embrace the heretical conclusion that we have reason to desire the extinction of all carnivorous species, and I await the usual fate of heretics when this article is opened to comment”

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      To quote him (the essayist in the link you posted), Nancy, “I am therefore inclined to embrace the heretical conclusion that we have reason to desire the extinction of all carnivorous species, and I await the usual fate of heretics when this article is opened to comment.”

      I think we should roast him and eat him. Did he forget about omnivores? 😉

  7. rork Avatar

    How many people write in on which side is almost irrelevant. If you wanna know how the public thinks, there are methods to poll them more scientifically. You better stop or you’re gonna shock the statistician. Further, the interesting question is who had anything smart or new to say.

  8. monty Avatar

    What is the status of the bear on the Canadian side? There is a couple of Canadian parks about 250 M acres. Any pro wildlife proposal will always have my support.

  9. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    The North Cascades Ecosystem is still a fairly large intact landscape and is the only recovery zone other than the Bitterroots without grizzlies. There would be grizzlies in the Bitterroots today except public opinion was strongly against transplanting. Public opinion matters and that’s why there are wolves in Yellowstone today (along with strong leadership from Interior, NPS and FWS).

    Since there has been no confirmed sightings for decades, transplanting bears is the only viable option to meet the recovery plan goals. The FWS is well aware of the Washington legislation and as Ralph mentioned the ESA overrides state laws, but I believe the agency will work with the WFW to determine the areas and amount of bears to capture and transplant to assure the best opportunity for recovery.

    IMO the FWS would not be pursuing the re-introduction of grizzlies into the NCE at this time if it didn’t think it wasn’t feasible. Again it’s good news that the comments were overwhelmingly in favor and I’m optimistic that grizzlies will once again roam the NCE in my lifetime.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan