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Momentous news for Cascades grizzly bear recovery

Jul 01, 2011

July 1 - It's unanimous: A team of grizzly bear experts have affirmed photos of a grizzly bear in North Cascades National Park, the first confirmed sighting in the US Cascades in 15 years.

Momentous news for Cascades grizzly bear recovery

A new day for grizzly bear recovery and protection in the North Cascades. Image taken by Joe Sebille

Editors Note, 2014: Continued research in the area of the 2010 bear photos taken by a hiker in the North Cascades, including photo evidence of an usually large black bear in the immediate vicinity and no hair, scat, tracks or sign of grizzly bears found in the area, have led some bear experts to believe the animal in the photos was actually a large black bear.

It's unanimous: A team of government and independent grizzly bear experts have affirmed that a bear photographed in North Cascades National Park in October 2010 was a grizzly bear. It is the first confirmed sighting in the US Cascades in 15 years.

Press statement in full
USFWS press release
Story, Seattle Times

It was also 15 years ago that the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a recovery strategy for North Cascades grizzly bears. Since then, recovery plans have stagnated.

“We welcome this confirmation that grizzly bears still roam the North Cascades. But it doesn’t change the fact that their foothold in these mountains is as tenuous as that of a climber on crumbling rock. The Cascades grizzly bear population has been languishing at dangerously low levels for more than 50 years. It will not recover without pro-active strategies to boost the population, an action identified in the Service’s North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Strategy 15 years ago.”

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) estimates that there are fewer than 20 grizzly bears in the Cascades. But with no officially verified sightings in more than a decade, some biologists have expressed concern that the Cascades grizzly bears have all but vanished. At nearly 10,000 square miles, the North Cascades Ecosystem is the second largest of six official grizzly bear recovery zones designated by the federal government and the only one outside of the Rocky Mountains.

Conservation Northwest has lead the push for grizzly bear recovery in the Pacific Northwest for more than twenty years. Joe Scott, Conservation Northwest’s director of international conservation, issues the following statement:

“This lonely bear has friends... Conservation Northwest has been working in Washington and British Columbia to secure and recover our region’s grizzly bears and protect and connect their habitat. The Cascades grizzly is the last remaining population on the Pacific Coast of the lower 48 states.”

Are you a friend to these bears? Now is the time to back up the US Fish and Wildlife Service: Take action now to throw North Cascades grizzly bears a lifeline!

Images: Joe Sebille

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