Only a handful of grizzly bears now roam the North Cascades of Washington.
Their numbers are so small that none of the 20 grizzlies have been sighted since 2010. The bears may now be getting some help.
A three-year process from the National Parks Service will find out if grizzly bears should be restored in the North Cascades. Officials are looking at a wide range of options. Those options include letting the bears recover on their own to transplanting bears from British Columbia.
Rob Smith with the National Parks Conservation Association said repopulating the North Cascades with grizzly bears makes good sense.
“We’re beginning to recover that last species here that has been missing from the North Cascades, at least in large numbers,” Smith said.
Smith said the North Cascades are ideal habitat for grizzly bears, but it would take several decades to fully recover the population.
Grizzly bears were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1975.
The reintroduction could prove controversial given that grizzly bears are larger and more aggressive than black bears, which are found throughout the Northwest.