A new plan to re-introduce grizzly bears into the North Cascades has drawn the ire of the 5th District representative.

The highly controversial proposal has been brought forth several times over the past decade, though has always been met with defeat. Now, as of last week, it was announced that a public comment process concerning the release of a draft environmental impact statement has been undertaken. The impact statement is intended to evaluate options available to restore grizzly bears in the North Central Washington Cascades. Additionally, there will also be a proposed management rule under the Endangered Species Act concerning the grizzly bear.

In a press release, Congressman Newhouse stated, in part, “Time and again, our communities have spoken to express staunch opposition to the introduction of these apex predators, which would be detrimental to our families, wildlife, and livestock alike." He added, “It’s past time for the Biden Administration to listen to my constituents’ voices, who overwhelmingly oppose this decision, instead of forcing bad policy on us from D.C. bureaucrats and environmental activists in California.”

They've been a part of the Northern Cascades in the past, but is that reason enough to bring them back?

According to federal officials, grizzly bears were in the North Cascades region for thousands of years, though the last confirmed sighting was back in 1996. Proponents of reintroducing the bears to the Cascades say they would become an essential facet of the ecosystem. Farmers, ranchers, sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts seem to disagree with that sentiment.

They are small in numbers, but still very dangerous to humans and livestock.

It is estimated that the bears vary between 1,500 and 2,200 in number, excluding Alaska. While the grizzly bear is a federally designated threatened species, they have been known to attack, and kill humans and livestock. In fact, a couple and their dog were just killed by a grizzly in Canada over the weekend.

According to Newhouse, over, 6,200 comments have been received on the draft proposal, though the vast majority of comments have come from outside Washington state.

For information on the proposal and public meetings go here.

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