Grizzly bears have been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act since 1975. In Washington, they are considered endangered. Last week, federal officials unveiled their draft plan to reintroduce grizzlies in North Central Washington.
At nearly 10,000 square miles, Washington’s North Cascades Grizzly ecosystem is one of the largest contiguous blocks of land in the Lower 48, but it’s been more than 20 years since anyone verified a grizzly bear sighting there.
“They were hunted pretty much to extinction in that ecosystem by the mid-1800s.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Ann Froschauer said.
Since 2015, they’ve been working with the National Park Service on a plan to reintroduce the gregarious predators in the North Cascades.
“It’s really because of actions of people that the bears aren’t currently in the ecosystem,” Froschauer said.
The two agencies have outlined four options: one proposes no action, the others aim to reintroduce up to 200 bears with timelines varying from 25 to 100 years.
Editor's note: this story was updated and corrected after initial publication and broadcast.