SCCA recently submitted comments to the National Parks Service opposing a recent proposal to reintroduce Grizzly Bears to the North Cascades. This is the third time SCCA has spoken up against this idea and we will continue to do so until this terrible idea is finally dead.
Below are our comments:
This is formal comment from the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association to record our opposition to any reintroduction or “recovery” of grizzly bears into Washington State. We have previously submitted our opposition to this wrongheaded proposal in 2015 and 2017. Unfortunately the idea does not seem to have died, so we are again submitting our grave concerns about this idea.
Over the last four years since NPS first put the grizzly bear recovery plan out to the public, the dangers posed by encouraging the proliferation of predator species have moved beyond the realm of theory.
As the Grey Wolf has saturated the landscape of Eastern Washington it serves as a poignant example of why predators should not be reintroduced to the landscape. As their numbers have climbed, the amount of conflict between wolves and livestock, as well as wolves and people, has also increased.
Along with annual cattle attacks, wolves have also regularly threatened people. From treeing a woman in Okanogan County to menacing a hiker in Stevens County, wolves are not showing a fear of people and are regularly encroaching on homes and domestic animals and the consequences are serious. Wolves have attacked domestic animals and are also pushing other predators, like cougars, closer to backyards and pastures. Grizzly Bears, with their imposing size and often aggressive behavior, will create similar conflicts with humans, especially in orchards and feedyards as they look for food.
The result of these negative, albeit predictable encounters, with wolves has been that residents of Eastern Washington live in a state of cautionary fear and the state has been forced to remove wolves that continue to attack livestock.
The public backlash has been considerable, with residents feeling apprehensive and anxious for their children and pets. Trust in the state agency that is tasked with managing the wolf has dwindled and local sheriffs have been forced to take on wildlife management tasks.
With this example clearly in front of us, it is stupefying to consider that NPS thinks increasing the number of grizzly bear won’t have a similar dismal result.
In addition this rationale for rejecting plans to reintroduce the grizzly, it is important to note that such actions would be in violation of state law. RCW 77.12.031 notes that, “Grizzly Bears shall not be transported or introduced into the state.”
The legislators of Washington, on behalf of the people of Washington, have already clearly spoken on this issue. We did not want grizzly bears reintroduced in 1995 when the legislation when it was written, in 2000 when it was revised or in 2015 or 2017 when NPS again forwarded this idea.
SCCA stands in firm opposition to any efforts to recover or reintroduce the grizzly bear. We do not want another predator, with the help and protection of government agencies, to do any further harm to the residents of Washington State.